Most people with musculoskeletal and arthritis-related problems in their hands or wrists won’t need surgery. The decision whether to operate will depend on:
- how bad your symptoms are (pain or loss of hand function)
- your needs
- your response to other treatments, including drugs, splinting and exercise.
You may feel nervous, stressed or scared if you’ve been told you need surgery. Finding out as much as you can about the operation and understanding the process will help you feel calmer and more in control.
Common types of hand surgery (I perform)
Conditions which may be helped by surgery include
- Fractures of wrist and distal radius/Ulna
- Fractures of scaphoid
- Fractures of phalanges & metacarpals
- Carpal tunnel syndrome,
- Trigger finger release,
- Ganglion removal
- Dupuytren’s contracture
- Tendon repair
- Arthritis of the base of the thumb (Trapeziectomy)
The main advantages of hand and wrist surgery can be:
- long-lasting pain relief
- better hand function
- better-looking appearance of hands
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when pressure is put on the median nerve as it passes through your wrist under the carpal tunnel ligament. This results in pins and needles and numbness in your fingers. Surgery is sometimes needed to ease pressure on the nerve. This is done by splitting the carpal tunnel ligament under local anaesthetic. You probably won’t need to stay overnight in hospital.
You may need to wear a bulky bandage on your wrist and hand for a week or two after the operation. Your stitches will be removed within 10–14 days. During this time you’ll be able to use your fingers and thumb, although you should avoid heavy tasks.
It’s important to move your fingers to prevent the nerve and tendons becoming caught up in the scar tissue which may form after your operation. You should recover from the effects of surgery in less than a month, although it may take longer to get all the feeling back, especially if you’ve had carpal tunnel syndrome for a long time.