Healthy Living

What Are the Risks of Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

What Are the Risks of Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

Carpal tunnel surgery is a procedure done to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. The surgical procedure involves the severing of a ligament referred to as the transverse carpal ligament so that the pressure it was exerting on the median nerve gets released.

The pressure exerted on the median nerve causes pain in the wrist and hand. The degree of hand pain can vary from mild to extreme. Carpal tunnel surgery can be done as an open surgery or the doctor may decide to carry out an endoscopic surgery.

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Are there any risks associated with carpal tunnel surgery?

Just like any other types of surgery, carpal tunnel surgery also has its own risks. In most cases, carpal tunnel surgery has been known to work in more than 90 percent of the cases. However, it does not mean that it is 100 percent effective.

The risks are diverse and they depend on the expertise of the surgeon and the possibility of complications arising during or after the surgery. It is also necessary to note that some of the risks associated with this surgery usually depend on the patient. Complications after the surgery will also depend on how well you take care of your hand.

Below are some of the risks of a carpal tunnel surgery:

1. Bleeding

Bleeding is one of the major risks associated with carpal tunnel surgery. During the surgery, you may experience bleeding, but sometimes, there are cases where a patient suffers from heavy bleeding. For some patients, the bleeding may continue to take place days after the surgery was done.

If your hand continues to bleed even after the surgery, it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. The reason is that there may be other complications that cause the bleeding.

Sometimes, bleeding can occur due to an aggressive use of the affected hand before it is fully healed. Engaging in activities that can strain your hand while it is still healing is completely out of the question because it can open your surgical wound and starts bleeding.

2. Risk of infection

There is also a risk of infection in your surgical wound. Such risk is usually heightened by poor hygiene practices. For this reason, always try to keep your hand from situations that make it prone to infection. Make sure the place around you is always clean, and if possible, disinfected.

Infections can often lead to further complications during the healing process. If your bandages get dirty, you can make appointments with your doctor to have him or her change them. Frequent visits to the doctor for checkups will also ensure that your doctor monitors your hand and sees to it that it is in the best healing condition.

3. Other risks associated with carpal tunnel surgery

  • Injury to the surrounding nerves or blood vessels - Sometimes, surgeons make a mistake while carrying out a certain surgical procedure and accidentally cause harm to the surrounding nerves or blood vessels. The injury can result in other serious complications such as a permanent damage to the nerves. 
  • Another risk is that you may have a reduced strength of your grip for the rest of your life - The transverse carpal ligament is the most important ligament in the hand since it holds the bones and muscles of the hand together. Since this ligament is the one that gets cut during the surgery, then it means that your hand will be greatly affected in terms of strength. You may, therefore, end up becoming unable to sustain a grip that is as strong as before.
  • Permanent tenderness can also develop at the site where the surgery was performed - The site where the surgical incision was made may remain tender even after your hand heals. Other patients may also lose finesse in their hand where they could appropriately move their hand while carrying out certain activities. 
  • Getting a second surgery - Not all carpal tunnel surgeries are successful and can get rid of the carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes, other complications set in and the patient ends up needing to have a second surgery performed on the hand. A second surgery poses even greater risks since it is more complex to perform and the muscles of the hand will already have been affected by the first surgery.

How can you minimize the risks of carpal tunnel surgery?

  • Inform your doctor about your medical history before the surgery. Let your doctor know if you are taking any blood thinners or other medications that may pose a threat to the surgery or the healing of your hand. 
  • Smokers should stop smoking for at least a few weeks before the scheduled surgery. The reason is that smoking can sometimes delay the healing process of your hand. 
  • After the surgery, give your hand enough time to heal and avoid any strenuous tasks. If possible, make sure that you see a physiotherapist to help you in regaining control of your motor skills. 
  • Keep your hand clean and free from dirt to keep it safe from infection. 
  • Finally, immediately consult your doctor if problems may arise after the operation. By consulting your doctor right away, your condition will be dealt with early, which will save you from any risks of complications.

The Bottom Line

Carpal tunnel surgery is one of the most efficient surgeries that are performed with ease by surgeons. Although the surgery is usually a success in most cases, it helps when you learn about it as much as possible before undertaking it.

Talk with your doctor and learn about the risks that are associated with it. Make sure that you also report any problems that may develop. Ask your doctor to refer a physiotherapist, who will help you in your healing process.

You can also seek other medical options for your condition if there are any that are less risky than carpal tunnel surgery. There are usually drugs that can help you deal with carpal tunnel syndrome. Only seek surgery as your last option and if you are not getting any better with medications.