I didn’t realize I had carpal tunnel syndrome for two reasons; I had arthritis in my hands, and I also had surgery for Kienbock’s Disease over 10 years ago . Kienböck’s Disease-OrthoInfo – AAOS
For over a year, I assumed it was one or the other. When pain began to extend from my hand to my elbow, and I noticed some numbness in my thumb and first three fingers, I sought advice from my orthopedic surgeon.
After a few simple tests, he diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome, and recommended surgery. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome-Symptoms I told him I would consider it, and he suggested wearing a splint for support, which I did. When the pain intensified, I knew it was time for the procedure
My husband related his experience with carpal tunnel surgery performed 30 years ago. He said he had pain for two weeks, and the recovery period was long. He couldn’t return to work for six weeks. I spoke to others who had it done. Some had scars from wrist to mid-palm, as he had, resulting from “open” surgery. Open Carpal Tunnel Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Others had small scars near the wrist, a result of the more advanced endoscopic surgery. Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
I was concerned about my recovery time, but my doctor couldn’t give me a definite answer. That depends on the individual’s health, and damage to the nerve. My health wasn’t great, but I was fortunate enough to have a supportive husband willing to be my “right hand”. The surgeon decided using the endoscopic method.
The day of surgery, I was admitted as an “out-patient’ and went through the routine pre-op; blood pressure and temperature check, medical history, and current prescriptions. Surgery was done with local anesthesia, (my hand was completely numb) so I was awake. I felt no pain, but I didn’t watch. I’m too squeamish. It took about 15 minutes. The nurse bandaged and wrapped my hand, the surgeon handed me a prescription for pain, and the discharge nurse gave me a list of follow-up instructions.
My hand remained numb for the rest of that day, and half of the next. When I had feeling in it again, I experienced moderate to occasional severe pain for a week, then just soreness. When I removed the dressing, I saw the incision was an inch long with five stitches, and I had bruising from mid-palm down to my wrist.
Two weeks later, the stitches were removed. Aside from experiencing the episodes of deep pain, the most difficulty I had was not being able to wash my hand, and being limited in using it for every day chores. The best part was having feeling back in my fingers, and increased mobility and sensitivity.
Some therapy was required afterwards, and I still wear a splint for yard work and house cleaning. I also started wearing one on my left hand, as a preventative measure.
I’m glad I had it done. Delaying it could have caused permanent nerve damage, and the pain is gone. I can now pick up small things, like straight pins, and thin things, like napkins. I’ll always have arthritis discomfort in my hand, but it won’t be made worse with the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome.