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Carpal Tunnel: Surgery or Natural Treatment?

Posted Sep 01 2011 11:42am

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) can hinder the natural functioning of your wrist, hand, and fingers if it is left undiagnosed, or if conservative treatments fail to alleviate the condition. In such a case, Carpal Tunnel surgery may be required as a last resort.

Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Although Carpal Tunnel Syndrome surgery is more effective than conservative CTS management, a patient may often be in a spot when it comes to deciding whether to go ahead with surgery or not, or when to do so.

Timely/periodic diagnoses and tests will be required to ascertain the likelihood of Carpal Tunnel surgery. Carpal Tunnel surgeons perform the following procedures to treat the condition:

1.Carpal Tunnel release surgery
Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel surgery

Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery

This procedure is often performed in an outpatient facility while a patient is on local anesthesia. In this, a 1 or 2 inch incision is made in the palm. The orthopedic surgeon then cuts the transverse carpal ligament so that the carpal tunnel becomes a bit wider and any pressure on the median nerve is relieved.

It is not unusual for patients who have just undergone open release surgery to experience nausea as a result of the medications/anesthesia administered before or during Carpal Tunnel surgery. If the procedure is performed in an outpatient facility, patients will most likely be moved to a recovery room until they are deemed fit to go home.

In most cases, patients are asked to visit the doctor for a follow-up about 2 weeks after Carpal Tunnel release surgery. At this time, the stitches are removed and a splint is provided for the healing process. While at home, patients must keep their hand elevated and use a splint to curb swelling or inflammation. Wrist and hand exercises are also recommended to speed up the recovery process.

Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel surgery

In this procedure, Carpal Tunnel surgeons make two ½ inch incisions- one in the wrist and one in the palm- and insert 1 or 2 endoscopes to observe the carpal ligament on a monitor while cutting it to ease pressure off the median nerve. The recovery time for this surgery is less than the open release procedure, though it can bring forth more risks.

For instance, a study conducted by the Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery of the Hand and Shoulder Center, Buffalo, NY, revealed that endoscopy for CTS, along with pre-existing conditions like osteoarthritis, can increase the risk factors for a condition called trigger finger. This would require the patient to also undergo trigger finger surgery.

Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel surgery can also cause complications like nerve injuries due to reduced visibility if the procedure is not conducted by experienced surgeons who are less likely to make mistakes during the operation.

Complications of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery

Other than the above complications, surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can weaken wrist strength over time because the carpal ligament has been cut. A person cannot perform intensive tasks immediately after surgery, and post-surgery scars can remain tender for almost a year.

If the procedure is not performed well enough, a patient can suffer from intense pain or infection at the operation site and median nerve damage in extreme cases.

Natural Cures for Carpal Tunnel

Considering the complications and long recovery time of Carpal Tunnel surgery, many people have opted for holistic remedies like acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, and the consumption of substances like Vitamin B6 to fight CTS. Various independent studies have shown that minerals/enzymes like folic acid, Vitamin B12, arnica, and bromelain have significantly reduced CTS symptoms with great success and without any side effects.

In cases where CTS is the outcome of underlying problems like diabetes, obesity, metabolic conditions, or osteoarthritis, effective management via dietary and lifestyle modifications can alleviate Carpal Tunnel.

Natural cures for Carpal Tunnel can also be adhered to by an individual while he/she performs wrist/hand exercises and does not exert pressure on the affected region. The successful management of CTS can always be achieved by effective holistic remedies if the condition is detected in the early stages and if one follows a healthy lifestyle.

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