Doctor insights on:
How Long Does Numbness Last After Carpal Tunnel Surgery
I had trigger thumb and carpal tunnel surgery on March 17, 2015. I still have numbness, tingling, tightness, sensitivity, is this normal?
Yes: It takes time for the inflamed tissue to heal both from where the surgery was done and from around the nerve that was injured. Then it will take time for the nerve itself to heal. I just had this discussion with my hand surgeon. The nerve heals approximately 1-2 mm a day not counting the first month after surgery. Give it time. ...Read more
I always tell patients that the time to healing is variable in that no two patients are exactly the same. However typically you can go back to light activites within a few days to a few weeks and heavy activity in 4-6 weeks. Of course this is job and activity dependent. If you are a sedentary office worker its a lot different than a plumber or machinist. General health also affects return to function. If you have diabetes, are a smoker or have fibromyalgia or an inflammatory condition you may have an extended time period.
Healing means different things to people. Some take it to imply return to activity others return of normal sensation.
I take time to clarify these two questions before surgery.
Will my sensation come back or be normal after surgery?
While the goal of carpal tunnel surgery is to relieve the pressure on the nerve not everyone will respond the same to surgery
some patients will have immediate return of sensation while some will take longer. Some will notice an improvement right away but still feel tingling and will describe this as "numb" the return of sensation is dependent on many factors including age, general health, duration of symptoms, circulation and the actual mechanical severity of compression.
In very severe cases while decompressing the nerve stops the carpal tunnel syndrome from getting worse, full recovery of sensation may not be possible. Often this is seen in patients who have muscle wasting noted prior to surgery and in those with longstanding complete numbness and elevated two-point discrimination. Of course there are many in these categories that improve despite having very severe cases.
Having a severe case where you are not sure if you'd have full recovery is not a reason to put off surgery, as progression is likely if nothing is done.
How about my strength?
This is a very difficult question as there are many reasons why a hand with carpal tunnel may not feel as strong. It may be that the decreased sensation in the fingers prevents someone from knowing how tight to hold and object and that object is dropped more easily. With return of sensation or even a slight improvement in sensation, dropping objects becomes less of a problem. Some severe cases of carpal tunnel can be associated with atrophy in the muscles of the hand. In some severe cases, this muscle will never fully recover. However despite loss of muscle, function can still be preserved. In very severe cases a suregon may recommend a tendon or muscle transfer to improve function.
So the short answer is its variabole, the long answer above. The best thing is to ask your surgeon what to expect.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. ...Read more
Yes: Give it time to heal. This can improve with time. ...Read more
It may be that: The amoujnt of nerve compression was evere and that it takes time for the nerve to feel better. It may be that the nerve was irritated by the surgical process and that the nerve is a bit more sleepy. In severe cases often it takes longer (far longer than it does for the incision to recover) to exhibit improvement and at times full improvement may not be possible. Talk to your surgeon about this. ...Read more
I had endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery a week ago. The base of my hand still feels hard and a little numb, is this normal?
Yes: Swelling and stiffness us common after endoscopic carpal tunnel release and it can take a little time to resolve. Numbness can take quite a while to resolve, especially if the nerve damage was more severe before surgery. Sometimes, some of the numbness does not completely resolve, other times it can take 6-12 months to resolve. ...Read more
I had carpal tunnel surgery two months ago. My thumb, pointer and middle finger are numb. They were not before the surgery. Normal?
May want to discuss: With your surgeon. The numbness should nothave gotten worse at two months and you may be having some scarring/adhesion issues or increased edema causing further compression on median nerve. While some of this can be expected post surgically, it should be getting better. With cts surgery, though, it's not uncommon to have a long healing process, even up to six months, that's if the surgery worked. ...Read more
Had carpal tunnel surgery back in 2009 and my fingers and arm are still going numb and wake me up out of my sleep... What could this be?
New exam. Maybe EMG: A new examination by a physician who specializes in nerve pain (dysesthesias) is warranted. The key would be to perform a physical exam and history to try to differentiate the cause. Electrodiagnostic studies (EMG) may be indicated to evaluate specific nerves. Get eval with neurologist, physiatrist, or hand surgeon to help. ...Read more
I had carpal tunnel surgery july 30th. Still lots of pain&running out of meds. How much longer wil this pain last? Scared to ask for more: (had 40 4xday
Very worrisome: You are very young to have carpal tunnel syndrome. Failure to get any relief is very worrisome. This could be for several reasons. These include an incomplete release of the tunnel, possible injury to the nerve, or maybe you don't have carpal tunnel. You might want to get a second opinion. ...Read more
I had keyhole carpal tunnel surgery july 30th and am having a lot of pain still. I'm running out of meds. How much longer will this pain last : (?
Talk to your surgeon:
A lot depends upo n what "the problems are
hand pain due to something else
not normal sensation
failure to understand limits in recovery
poor communication regarding time to "heal"
most don't need pain meds a few days later and it is ok to transition away from them for most. ...Read more
It depends...: In my practice, I allow patients to return to routine activities of daily living the same day of surgery. I encourage typing and light gripping immediately. The bandage is removed after a week, at which time the incision could be washed normally and dressed with a bandaid (avoiding submersion for total of 3 weeks). Load bearing and heavy gripping (manual labor) is resumed usually after 4 weeks. ...Read more
Usually none: Carpal tunnel surgery is often a very effective and safe procedure especially when performed by highly experienced hand surgeons. There is always the risk of an incomplete release or recurrent symptoms due to scar tissue and other issues. These risks can be minimized by using certain precautions and techniques. Most patients resume their work activity without difficulty. ...Read more
Severity: It depends on the severity of your symptoms and functional abilities. If atrophy has set it or you are not capable of completing daily activities without simple modifications it may be time to seek relief. ...Read more
Depends: This is a common problem. It may improve with time. ...Read more
return to work: Postop recovery from carpal tunnel syndrome varies depending on the type of procedure performed. Studies demonstrate endoscopic carpal tall leads to quicker return to work. However each surgeon will set the postop protocols for their patient. Speak to your specific surgeon about their recommendations. At most it can be six weeks to as little as 1 to 2 weeks. ...Read more
I tend to stage the surgery 2 weeks apart and typically recommend that the dominant hand go first unless there is a severe difference in the non dominant hand. This gives enough time to allow full function in most adl activity
when people ask whether they can have surgery on both hands together I typically remind them about the bathroom! ...Read more
A couple of weeks: It takes about 2 weeks for the wound to heal. Once it does, the soreness should be minimal. It's not uncommon to have some palm and wrist pain after surgery. Most work activities will be tolerable by 3 weeks. Heavy lifting or other activities may take up to 6 weeks to perform. ...Read more
CTR recovery: In my practice the patient has a soft dressing for 1 week and they start mobilizing in the second week. Recovery from the carpal tunnel surgery can be as quick as two weeks but the nerve recovery may take 6 months if the nerve compression was severe. Scar matures over 6-9 months. Your hand surgeon is the best person to give you detailed information about recovery specific to your condition. ...Read more
Usually relief: Typically results from carpal tunnel surgery are good. That is, symptoms resolve with relatively little down time. While surgeons differ in their protocol, in my practice the operation is done under local anesthesia with light sedation and the patient can use the hand for most activities right after surgery. Stitches come out at two weeks and the patient leaves with a band aid. That's usually it. ...Read more
6 weeks: For most patients, they are able to gradually resume most normal activities around 6 weeks after surgery. Most do not require occupational therapy on the hand. However, ot can be helpful if the recovery is slow. The type of work being done influences when someone can return. The more strenuous the work the more time it takes. Your surgeon can help you make a plan as to when you can return. ...Read more
Keep fingers moving: Immediately after surgery it's important to keep your fingers moving with your wrist in a neutral position (not bent backward or foreward). Try doing this several times an hour while awake for the first 24 hours. Movements should be slow and full - fully extend the fingers straight and fully flex them into the palm, but without gripping tightly. ...Read more
Yes: Recent research just published within the last few months does show an increased risk of developing trigger finger after carpal tunnel surgery. The biomechanics of the tendons going through the carpal tunnel are altered slightly after the surgery which can in fact increase the risk of developing trigger finger. ...Read more
Yes: There has been new research demonstrating an increased risk of trigger finger after carpal tunnel surgery. The release of the thick ligament which is causing compression on the nerve does alter the biomechanics of the tendons slightly which can increase the chances of developing trigger finger. This article was just published within the last few months. ...Read more
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