When you know you’ve got to talk carpal tunnel surgery, you’re likely going to have a couple of questions regarding the procedure. Regardless of whether or not you’ve done your preliminary research, knowing both fundamental and specific knowledge on the procedure may do good in helping you achieve a sense of calm throughout the process. However, when you’re with your surgeon, and it’s your turn to ask questions, what exactly should you ask? What are questions to ask to your carpal tunnel surgeon before getting surgery – especially on essential matters?
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
It might help to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome first. A lot of people tend to associate carpal tunnel syndrome with a weakness, tingling, or numbing feeling in your hand. This is because carpal tunnel syndrome affects a nerve in your arm called the median nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is called as it is because the median nerve goes the length of the arm and through a wrist passage called the carpal tunnel. This nerve is responsible for the movement of all fingers except the pinky, and the thumb’s feeling as well. Carpal tunnel syndrome often happens because of swelling, but can be caused by things such as:
- Doing repetitive motion with the wrist such as typing, especially if these happen with the hands being lower than the wrist.
- Conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, hypothyroidism, and even pregnancy.
Symptoms often include an itching, tingling, or burning numbness across your palm as well as your middle and index fingers, and even your thumb. Another symptom is your fingers “falling asleep” at night, or waking up with tingly and numbness on your hands and even all the way to your shoulder. In worse cases, severe symptoms include loss of coordination and strength – especially with your thumb’s ability to pinch – as well as slower nerve impulses.
Carpal Tunnel Surgeon: What To Ask Before You Get Surgery
If you’ve found your carpal tunnel surgeon in your local area, you’re likely going to be relieved as they can at least be accessible via vehicle or commute. If you live in New York, for instance, your carpal tunnel surgeon in Buffalo, NY, may be able to be of assistance with regards to all your concerns on your surgery. Though since consultations do take time and money, you’ve got to make all visits worth your while, right? Below are questions to ask your carpal tunnel surgeon before getting your surgery:
- Just what exactly is happening in your wrist and hand that gave you these symptoms? Your carpal tunnel doctor will most likely explain that certain repetitive motion such as handcraft hobbies, typing, and other activities related to occupations, may have caused carpal tunnel syndrome. However, it’s important they explain that carpal tunnel syndrome is actually a disease, which means you’re either prone to carpal tunnel syndrome or not. “Stopping” repetitive motion may not do a lot to relieve the symptoms, which means it’s important they explain to you what’s happening and how severe the situation is.
- Are they sure the problem is really your carpal tunnel? Aside from repetitive motion, conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, and diabetes can make you much more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome. However, not all problems with your wrist immediately result in carpal tunnel syndrome. For instance, wrist tendonitis or thoracic outlet syndrome are related to your wrist and mimic carpal tunnel syndrome, but isn’t necessarily the disease. Unfortunately, there’s no “one” way to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. There are ways to do this, though, such as electrodiagnostic tests and physical exams.
- Just what is the treatment plan your doctor wants you to do? Regardless of whether or not your symptoms are chronic or new to you, surgery may not even be the immediate option for you. Doctors may first recommend using therapy that doesn’t need surgery, such as deep tissue massage that can help relieve your carpal tunnel syndrome. Even with symptoms that last for more than 12 months, deep tissue massage might still be able to relieve your symptoms entirely.
- Are these treatments going to help relieve the symptoms? What happens if it doesn’t work? Another important consideration to ask is if these treatment plans are designed to relieve your symptoms or if these are preparing you for surgery in the first place. Common methods used to help treat symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are proper ergonomics, splints, muscle relaxants, or anti-inflammatory drugs. However, they might not be aggressive enough to tackle the problem, which has something to do with tendon inflammation. And even if things such as deep tissue massage works, you may have to avoid activities that are considered making you prone to carpal tunnel syndrome in the first place. If this doesn’t work, your doctor might consider surgery as an option for you.
- Just what is their experience with carpal tunnel syndrome? How did they perform before? With surgery into consideration, it’s important to get to know just how your surgeon has performed them. Don’t be hesitant to ask these questions to your surgeon. A lot of specialists will most likely have experience diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome, given it is widespread. However, you need to make sure your surgeon has also tackled treating carpal tunnel syndrome via surgery before. Someone familiar to both non-surgical and surgical methods to treat carpal tunnel syndrome can greatly boost your trust towards the doctor in question.
- Do they have surgical methods they would recommend? If you do need to take surgery, it’s important to check if they have a particular surgical methods they recommend. The surgery needed to “relieve” the pressure on the median nerve to help alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome is called “carpal tunnel syndrome release surgery.” This comes in two varieties, with one called “endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery” and the other called “open release carpal tunnel surgery.” Endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery uses an endoscope, and needs only one or two small incisions on your wrist or palm. Open release carpal tunnel surgery involves getting palm or wrist incisions that are two to three inches long, and then the transverse carpal ligament will be cut in half. You should ask what surgical method your doctor prefers, and then you should discuss their experience with this method and their success rate with it.
- Ask what are the benefits, risks, and expectations you should have with the surgery? It’s important to remember that all surgical procedures have their own risks of possible injury. However, perhaps the biggest issue patients have with carpal tunnel treatment is that they don’t become satisfied with the treatment. This means your doctor should be clear just what you should expect for your recovery after your surgery. You should also ask just how much your success rate is, and also just what kind of activities you should and shouldn’t do after your surgery. Be as open and honest as you can with questions and expectations, so you can establish the kind of expectations with your progress.
The Takeaway: Proper Carpal Tunnel Procedures For Safety
Even when you feel as though you need to undergo carpal tunnel surgery, it’s still best you consult a surgeon prior to your operation – or even before you decide to get one – in order to get a much better idea on just what the condition entails and its various implications. Having a head start in terms of what you have to know about carpal tunnel can put you in quite an advantageous position, and would allow you to at least be better prepared in your current situation.