Carpal tunnel is a syndrome that is characterized by compression of the median nerve in the wrist, usually causing pain, decreased range of motion and loss of feeling in the hand. While typically managed with non-surgical treatments, there are certain circumstances that might make carpal tunnel surgery a better option for symptom relief.
1. Symptoms Haven’t Responded to Non-Surgical Therapies
As surgery is typically considered a last resort, non-surgical therapies will usually be tried first to see if symptoms can be improved. These treatments may include:
- Lifestyle changes, including avoiding activities that irritate the condition or wearing a wrist brace
- Physical therapy to improve range of motion
- Medication to relieve pain or inflammation
If these treatments prove to be ineffective, surgery on the wrist may be a viable treatment option.
2. Loss of Feeling or Coordination
Losing the feeling in your fingers, thumb or hand is a common symptom of carpal tunnel that may indicate the need for surgery. Other more serious symptoms include losing strength in your thumb and difficulty performing activities of daily living. While mild forms of these symptoms often occur in carpal tunnel patients, severe pain and loss of feeling may indicate nerve damage that requires surgery to correct.
3. Damage to Median Nerve
The median nerve is the large nerve that runs the length of your arm and through your wrist, ending in the hand. It’s primarily responsible for providing motion and feeling in your thumb and first few fingers. If your carpal tunnel syndrome causes damage to this nerve, loss of hand function will likely occur. The safety of the median nerve is one of the biggest reasons that carpal tunnel surgery may be considered.