Q&A with Dr. Jeffrey Brooks, Hand Surgeon and Partner at OSSM:
Q: How do I know if I have carpal tunnel syndrome?
A: The signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (a pinched nerve in the wrist/hand) can be varied: wrist pain, burning, numbness and tingling. The diagnosis can usually be made in a short office visit with minimal testing.
Q: How do I know if I need surgery?
A: Most cases do not require surgery and can be treated with splinting, medications, and sometimes cortisone injections. If conservative therapy fails, surgery is usually offered.
Q: If I need surgery, what are my options?
A: If you do need surgery, the least-invasive surgical treatment (“endoscopic” release) offers a much faster recovery than traditional “open” methods with less pain and faster return to sports and work activities.
Q: How long is the recovery after endoscopic release surgery?
A: While this result is unusual, we have seen electricians and other tradespeople return to work within 3 days after endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery (as opposed to 4-6 weeks with open release). Most people are better off than before the surgery by week 3-4 after endoscopic release compared with 6-7 weeks after open release.
Q: If the surgery is minimally invasive, isn’t it more dangerous since the surgeon can’t see as well as with a wide-open incision?
A: Many studies have shown endoscopic release is actually safer than open release. The surgeon can see much better as a camera is used thru a small incision in the wrist (rather than in the sensitive palm) and the images are projected on an ultra high-definition video monitor, magnified >50 times. It’s critical, however, that endoscopic release is performed by an experienced hand surgeon. Dr. Brooks has performed nearly 1,000 of these procedures safely and effectively.
video description of endoscopic carpal tunnel release is below: