Picking the right surgeon
When conservative treatment fails to make the numbness and pain in your hands go away, or if you start to lose your sense of touch, you should schedule a carpal tunnel release as soon as possible to avoid permanent, irreversible damage.
There are two methods for releasing the median nerve: the traditional method and the endoscopic method. Picking the right surgeon is crucial to get the best results and reduce the risk of complications or permanent damage.
Make sure you put your hands in the hands of an expert.
Common patient and doctor mistakes
- Ignoring the diagnosis: Numbness or a loss of sensitivity in your hands is never normal. As soon as symptoms appear, it’s important to document them, do your research, and consult a doctor or other health care professional for a diagnosis. If you put off treatment for too long (six to twelve months), you may suffer permanent, irreversible damage (loss of feeling and thumb paralysis).
- Delaying treatment: Patients might wait to get treated because they lack access to proper care or don’t prioritize their own health. Some may wait because they think, “it’ll go away on its own.” The result of waiting too long is often permanent damage.
- Gathering too little information: Patients might have surgery without understanding what their different options are. Endoscopic surgery is a great option because it’s less invasive than traditional surgery. Make sure you take good notes and ask your hand surgeon lots of questions.
- Getting repeated cortisone shots: A common mistake that can lead to permanent damage is too many cortisone shots, because cortisone only relieves symptoms temporarily. The compression is still there while the cortisone artificially masks the symptoms. A specialized hand surgeon should decide whether to administer multiple shots.
- Wearing a splint for too long: Patients should wear splints at night for three to six weeks, then stop to see whether it effectively resolved their symptoms. They should not wear a splint for months on end because nerve damage could occur, resulting in a permanent loss of feeling and thumb paralysis. Identifying the root cause of the condition and fixing it are critical.
Choose a specialized hand surgeon
Like our eyes, our hands are extremely intricate instruments. We use them to complete day-to-day tasks, communicate, and feel the world around us.
If you need surgery, your hands should be in the best hands. This means going to an experienced specialist whose practice is dedicated to hand surgery. Studies have shown that success correlates with experience, in other words, the number of procedures your specialist has performed.
Ask your doctor about their training and experience. There’s no such thing as minor surgery because all procedures can have serious permanent complications.
MEET YOUR HAND EXPERT
A first step towards recovery
It’s important that you learn what you can about your condition and alternative treatments you could try. Each patient is unique, and each individual deserves tailored treatment. The way you choose to treat your carpal tunnel syndrome must align with your lifestyle.
It can be helpful to ask your family doctor or your family and friends to recommend a specialist. It’s a good idea to research carpal tunnel specialists, and with the wealth of information at our fingertips today, it’s easy to do from the comfort of your home.
Before your consultation, think about the questions you’d like to ask. It can be helpful to bring someone with you to help you remember everything. You can always ask for a written consultation report for your family doctor and for your own records. You’ll probably want to reread it.
Complications are rare, but always possible, which is why it’s important to establish a relationship of trust before your procedure. You need to feel comfortable sharing your concerns and worries with your surgeon.
Confirm how you’ll pay
Make sure you know exactly how much your procedure will cost. Find out whether there are financing options and whether your insurance or employer will reimburse you.
Do I have to see a specialized surgeon?
Whenever possible, choosing a surgeon whose practice is primarily focused on hands is always better than a surgeon who specializes in something else and does hand surgery as a secondary specialization.
How do I verify my surgeon’s skills and experience?
Ask questions! How many similar cases have they personally treated in the past year? What kinds of complications have they encountered? Do they just do hand surgery or do they also do other procedures, like general orthopaedics or plastic surgery?
What are the most common mistakes?
The most common mistakes that are likeliest to affect recovery are failing to get the right information, not doing your research, delaying a consultation or surgery, wearing a splint for too long, and getting cortisone shots too often.
Practical and comprehensive
Everything you need to know to identify and treat Carpal tunnel syndrome. Written in clear and simple language by hand surgeon Dr. Jean-Paul Brutus, this e-guide identifies the causes, symptoms, and different ways to treat CTS and offers recommendations on how to ease your symptoms at home.