When to get carpal tunnel surgery
You should get carpal tunnel surgery if you find that you have numbness or tingling in your thumb, index, middle, and half of your ring finger, and you have failed treatment with night splinting, stretching, and possibly a steroid injection. There are many who have carpal tunnel syndrome who can get better without surgery. But for those who can’t it is better to do the surgery sooner rather than later as to avoid permanent nerve damage. Here at Easy Orthopedics in Colorado Springs, we frequently see patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, and try to avoid surgery if at all possible.
What are the stages of carpal tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is divided into three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. The only way to tell if you have mild, moderate, or severe carpal tunnel syndrome is to get nerve conduction studies that give objective measurements of how well the nerve is working. If you have occasional numbness or tingling then you are more likely to have mild carpal tunnel syndrome. If your hand has been constantly numb for a long time and you are losing muscle mass in your thumb, then it is more likely that you have severe carpal tunnel syndrome.
How do you know if your carpal tunnel is severe?
Your carpal tunnel syndrome may be severe if your hand started out only tingling at night, but now you have constant numbness and tingling. You may also have severe carpal tunnel syndrome if your thumb muscles have atrophied, which you can tell by touching your thumb to your pinky and poking the meat of your thumb. If one side feels much softer than the other, you may have thumb (thenar) muscle atrophy. The only surefire way to tell if you have severe carpal tunnel syndrome is to get nerve conduction studies.
When is it too late for carpal tunnel surgery?
It is never too late for carpal tunnel surgery, but if you have had severe carpal tunnel syndrome for some time, then the nerve damage may be permanent, and the surgery would only prevent it from getting worse. Mild carpal tunnel syndrome usually goes away with treatments such as wearing carpal tunnel splints at night. Those with moderate carpal tunnel syndrome will usually require surgery at some point, but may be able to avoid it for a while through nonoperative management. Those with severe carpal tunnel syndrome are usually recommended to get carpal tunnel surgery as soon as they are able to.
I hope we were able to answer some of your questions about When to get carpal tunnel surgery. If you would like us to evaluate your carpal tunnel syndrome and are in the Colorado area, contact us below to make an appointment at Easy Orthopedics.