Taking the pain out of carpal tunnel syndrome

Taking the pain out of carpal tunnel syndrome
Published: Jun. 26, 2013 at 1:29 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2013 at 2:06 PM CDT
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Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the top causes of hand and wrist pain. If ignored, the damage to the nerves in your hand could freeze the movement.

Conservative treatments like splints and injections can help some patients, but there is a also a surgery to remove the pain and pressure in the wrist.

Anne Self is about to have her post-surgery bandages removed, one week after having carpal tunnel surgery on her second wrist by hand and wrist specialist Dr. Andrew Foret at Center for Orthopaedics. "It worked," said Self, "it worked very, very well."

Self says she ignored the pain in her wrists for years until it started waking her up at night.  "My fingers were going to sleep and then tingling like needles and then just achy," she said.

For an avid crafter and then craft store owner, Self's hands were critical to her livelihood.

Foret says repetitive tasks like typing, sewing, construction and cleaning can put people at a higher risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.  "Usually it starts as intermittent and people feel it with certain tasks or at night or while driving," said Foret, "it usually can progress to where it's almost constant."

The pain is caused by pressure from this ligament onto the median nerve.  When conservative treatment is not enough, there is a surgical procedure to go in and relieve that pressure. "We are physically cutting the transverse carpal ligament either open with a blade or endoscopically," said Foret.

Self's procedure was done endoscopically through the wrist, with a one to two centimeter incision. "You can see the fibers of the ligament running sideways and we use the endoscope, to release the ligament," said Foret.

When the ligament in front of the median nerve is cut, pressure is relieved on the carpal tunnel area - taking away the pain. "I'm able to move all of these fingers and do light activities," said Self.

Self had her right wrist done in March, her left wrist last week and she says she is ready to get back to using her hands freely in the kitchen with her granddaughter. "I'm waiting to get back to cooking with her," said Self, "we want to make some cookies."

The recovery time post-surgery is about one month.

Learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome and treatment from Foret at a free seminar at Center for Orthopaedics on Thursday, June 27 at 5:30 p.m. For additional details or to register for the seminar, call 721-2903 or click here.

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