What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed or pinched as it travels through a narrow passageway in the wrist called the carpal tunnel.
  • This compression can be caused by many different things, such as repetitive hand and wrist movements, injury or trauma to the wrist, fluid retention, or certain medical conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The compression of the median nerve can cause pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. It can also result in difficulty gripping objects, dropping objects, or a feeling of swelling in the affected hand.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treated?

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome will depend on how severe the symptoms are.

Mild carpal tunnel syndrome can result in intermittent pins and needles, and can be treated with :

  • Rest and avoiding activities that aggravate the symptoms.
  • Wearing a wrist splint to help relieve pressure on the median nerve.
  • Hand therapy exercises.
  • Corticosteroid injections.

More severe carpal tunnel syndrome can result in more constant pins and needles or hand weakness, and may require carpal tunnel release surgery:

  • A carpal tunnel release involves cutting the ligament that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel, resulting in an increase in the amount of space for the nerve to pass through.
  • Carpal tunnel release surgery can be performed under local anaesthesia (or with sedation if preferred), and as day case surgery, meaning you can go home the same day.
  • Once Dr Colbert has released the carpal tunnel ligament he will close the wound with sutures (stitches), and then a wound dressing is applied, and you’ll be given specific instructions until your follow up with Dr Colbert

What is the recovery after Carpal Tunnel Release surgery?

While your recovery after carpal tunnel release surgery will vary depending on the severity of symptoms and your overall health, here is a general timeline of what to expect:

  • Immediately after surgery you’ll have a bandage on your wrist, and your hand will feel numb from the local anaesthetic that was injected during the operation.
  • For the first week your dressing clean and dry, keep your hand elevated, and avoid heavy lifting or any vigorous activities that could put stress on your wrist.
  • During the second week Dr Colbert will review you in the rooms, dressings will be changed, sutures will be removed, and you may be referred to a hand therapist for exercises.
  • During the subsequent weeks you’ll initially be able to use your hand for light activities, while progressing to more heavy activities as your strength improves .

What carpal tunnel release scars can I expect?

Scarring after surgery is a common question asked by Perth patients.

As a Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr. Colbert always aims to minimise scarring by using precise plastic surgery techniques, and closely monitoring your wounds after the operation.

Carpal tunnel release surgery scars will often take several months to settle down – they are sometimes initially lumpy, bumpy, red, then after several months they settle to become flat, thin, and pale. They are often very sensitive to begin with, but become less sensitive with time.

What are the risks associated with carpal tunnel release surgery?

Carpal tunnel release surgery can be associated with the following risks:

  • Infection: this may present as redness or discomfort or discharge, and may require a course of antibiotics.
  • Bleeding, bruising, and haematoma.
  • Nerve damage: Very rarely the medical nerve or other nearby nerves can be damaged during surgery, potentially causing weakness, numbness, or even paralysis of the affected hand.
  • Pain and stiffness: this is common after surgery, but usually improves with time and physical therapy.
  • Scarring: scars are initially lumpy, but settle down over time. Rarely they may be permanently lumpy or thick (hypertrophic or keloid scarring).
  • Recurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms: In some cases, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may return even after surgery.
  • Carpal tunnel release surgery is like any surgical procedures in that it carries risks – therefore before having any operation you should always speak to an appropriately qualified health practitioner about these potential risks.

How much does Carpal Tunnel Release surgery cost?

Costs associated with plastic surgery and Carpal Tunnel Release surgery in Perth can be confusing.

To help make things clearer we have listed the the following fees that make up the final cost of carpal tunnel surgery treatment.

  • Surgical fee: this fee includes surgery, and follow up care including dressings. The surgical fee may be subsidised by Medicare and your private health fund, however there is usually some out of pocket expenses. Dr Colbert will discuss these costs with you during your consultation.
  • Anaesthetic fee: most cases of carpal tunnel surgery can be treated under local anaesthesia, meaning there is no anaesthetic fee. However for patients who request surgery under sedation or general anaesthesia then an anaesthetic fee will be sent. This anaesthetic fee may be subsidised by Medicare and your private health fund, but there are usually out of pocket expenses.
  • Hospital fee: this includes operation room fee, bed costs, surgical or medication fees, and any other hospital extras. Medicare does not cover this fee. If you have private health insurance then this may be covered by your insurance fund, but you should check with your fund if there is any out of pocket expenses. If you have no private insurance then you will have to pay this fee on discharge from the hospital.

Why should I see Dr Colbert for Carpal Tunnel Release surgery?

Dr Colbert is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with an interest in Carpal Tunnel Release surgery. He has undergone extensive training to become a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (FRACS) in Plastic Surgery.

Once becoming a Plastic Surgeon he then underwent further training at Oxford University Hospital, including a hand fellowship at Churchill Hospital.

Meet Dr Colbert

Where can I find out more?

To arrange to speak to Dr Colbert about carpal tunnel surgery please contact our friendly office staff.

Alternatively you can leave a message by filling out our contact form.

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