What is it?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that affects the hand, and carpal tunnel treatment can ultimately include carpal tunnel surgery. Numbness and tingling involving the thumb, index and middle finger are the most common symptoms seen with carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms are often severe at night. You may have a tendency to drop things because of the hand feeling clumsy. Occasionally the numbness or pain may involve the other fingers or move up into the forearm. Without carpal tunnel treatment, the symptoms tend to progress, eventually leading to constant numbness and occasionally to loss of strength in the hand.

What causes it?

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are caused from pressure on the nerve. Conditions seen with carpal tunnel syndrome : diabetes, hypothyroidism, and arthritis. Carpal tunnel can also be seen after fractures or dislocations in the wrist and with pregnancy.

How is it diagnosed?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed by its typical symptoms in conjunction with an examination by your physician. Often the diagnosis is confirmed by tests to measure the electrical activity of the nerve in the hand (nerve conduction studies).

What are the symptoms?

Numbness and tingling involving the thumb, index and middle finger are the most common symptoms seen with carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms are often severe at night. You may have a tendency to drop things because the hand feels clumsy. Occasionally the numbness or pain may involve the other fingers or move up into the forearm.

What are the treatments?

The use of a splint, anti-inflammatory medicines (i.e. Advil) or a cortisone injection are the most reliable non-surgical carpal tunnel treatment. If the symptoms are not eliminated or are already severe, carpal tunnel surgery recommended. The goal of carpal tunnel treatment is to relieve the pressure on the nerve. With endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery the procedure is done through a small incision in the wrist. Open carpal tunnel surgery is conducted via an incision in the palm. The surgery is performed in an outpatient facility.

Dr.’s Helgemo and Olarte preferred method is endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery. It is done through a ½ inch incision in the wrist and the incision is closed with glue rather than stitches. Prescription pain medication is rarely needed after surgery, and you are able to resume most of your activities immediately. The minimally-invasive nature of this procedure along with the doctors extensive experience (over 7,000 cases) have led to excellent results with minimal risks. According recent AHCA data, Dr. Helgemo is Florida’s leading endoscopic carpal tunnel surgeon.

Are there any restrictions after surgery?

Your hand will be placed in a lightweight brace following carpal tunnel surgery. As part of the carpal tunnel treatment, you are encouraged to move your fingers after surgery and keep your hand elevated; this will reduce the pain and swelling in your hand. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are usually adequate for any pain you may experience. You should not lift more than a pound, do any forceful gripping, or engage in any repetitive activity (ie needlework, fishing, etc.) until allowed by your surgeon. Both you and the surgeon will discuss when you may return to work, and/or any other restrictions you may have.

What are the results of the surgery?

The results of carpal tunnel surgery are excellent with greater than 95 percent patient satisfaction. The pain in the fingers, especially the symptoms at night, are usually the first symptoms to improve after surgery. Carpal tunnel surgery, however, like any medical procedure, involves risk. Possible complications include incomplete relief of symptoms, pain, nerve or tendon injury, infection, and need for further surgery. Fortunately, these occur with only a very small percentage of patients.
*results may vary in patients