Carpal tunnel surgery is a procedure that can be done while you are awake, using local anesthesia. This means you won't need to be put under general anesthesia and can usually go home an hour after the operation. Before leaving the hospital, Dr. Johans will explain what medications you should take, which activities you should avoid during your recovery, and how to recognize any potential risks associated with the operation.
Patients undergoing surgery often experience a significant decrease in their preoperative pain. Though the incision site may be tender, the discomfort is usually mild compared to before. Many patients even feel an improvement in sensation and strength soon after their procedure. However, it can take some time to regain full strength and mobility, so Dr. Johans may initiate physical therapy as part of your post-op treatment, which will be discussed at the first follow-up appointment.
At the follow-up appointment, typically between 12 to 14 days after the initial surgery, Dr. Johans will remove the top layer of stitches placed in the patient. The first layer of stitches is deep in the skin and permanent, while the second layer resides on top of the skin and can be removed just a couple of weeks after surgery. Although palm skin has strong healing qualities, it is composed of many dead layers, which makes it relatively slow to heal. Patients must keep their wounds clean and dry during this period to ensure a healthy recovery process after surgery. With proper care, patients are expected to have a successful outcome from their surgery.
If you have had carpal tunnel surgery but your symptoms are not improving, it could be because the underlying issue was not actually related to carpal tunnel syndrome. Instead, it might be due to nerve compression in the neck that extends down into the arm. Alternatively, it could also mean that the surgery did not effectively remove pressure from the nerve. Although this is rarer, both scenarios will be considered by Dr. Johans when examining a patient's lack of improvement.
Returning to work after an injury can be highly variable based on a patient's line of work. For example, if the job involves a lot of manual labor, such as using tools or shovels, it may take around three months to allow the wound to heal properly. To ensure that you return to work safely, we will work with your employer from day one by looking for alternative jobs with lower demands, which would still allow you to complete your duties and complement the healing process.
Patients should expect to no longer be woken up at night with episodes of numbness or tenderness caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. There is a small chance they might be felt occasionally, but the chances are significantly reduced after surgery. To avoid these issues, take a break from activities that cause strain on this area of your body so that symptoms can subside. You should also be mindful of activities that place a lot of direct pressure on this region because the ligament, which normally protects the nerve, has been weakened, making it more vulnerable. Issues caused by vibrations or sleeping difficulties should be more manageable, so avoid direct pressure when possible.