Your hand uses many nerves to control the muscles that help you feel, grasp and move your fingers and palm. As your nerves travel from your arm into your hand, they pass through a narrow area at the wrist called the carpal tunnel. Sometimes, this area can become injured and inflamed, crowding the nerve passageway and causing the median nerve to become pinched as it passes through the tunnel. As a result, you may experience symptoms like pain, tingling or burning in your fingers or palm or numbness or a lack of sensation that makes it difficult to feel and use your fingers and hand. That's carpal tunnel syndrome, and it can develop following a traumatic injury, as a result of bone spurs or, more commonly, through a repetitive use injury like using a keyboard or performing other repetitive motions using your hands and wrists.
Open carpal tunnel release is a surgical procedure that releases the pressure on the median nerve so painful symptoms are resolved and muscle tone and strength can be restored. The approach uses a two-inch incision in the center of the palm to provide access to the nerves and the carpal tunnel. The open incision enables the surgeon to see the nerves more clearly, decreasing the risk of damage to other nerves.
Open carpal tunnel release requires a longer recovery time compared to an endoscopic approach, and most patients can expect to wear a splint for a few weeks to support the wrist as it heals. During the initial phase of recovery, you may also need oral pain medication to manage pain for a few days after the procedure. Physical therapy may also be used to restore strength and mobility to the area.
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