WHAT IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes the main nerve to the hand to stop working as efficiently resulting in altered feeling and loss of dexterity and strength. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome patients most commonly describe altered feeling, or pins and needles in their hand. This can be felt as the whole hand but more classically the thumb, index , middle and half the ring finger. The symptoms can occur at anytime but tend to be worse at night. Patients often describe having to shake their hands to resolve the symptoms the hand and arm caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist.
Carpal Tunnel syndrome is very common and becomes particularly common as we age, in Females and Males Aged greater than 50. It can also be caused with repetitive wrist activities, particular occupations and medical conditions including a pregnancy link, Hypothyroid, Trauma or Injury, Ganglion / tumour, certain metabolic conditions, inflammatory conditions, eg Rheumatoid arthritis /Systemic Lupus (SLE), etc. Most are “idiopathic” which means that there is no specific cause but comes on with age.
HOW DO I GET CARPAL TUNNEL?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compressed nerve in the carpal tunnel, usually due to high pressure. There are many potential causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome although the commonest is termed "idiopathic." meaning that no single cause is found. Age and gender are the two most common risk factors for Carpal Tunnel.
The anatomy of your wrist, health problems and in some cases highly repetitive hand motions can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I LEAVE MY CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME UNTREATED?
If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent muscle wasting and weakness, loss of normal sensation and lack of coordination in your fingers and thumb. Prompt treatment can relieve pressure on the nerve and eliminate the symptoms, returning your hand to normal. Prolonged severe nerve compression can result in the nerve becoming irreversibly damaged, and even though some improvement can be experienced with surgery, the nerve will not always recover.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OPEN CARPAL TUNNEL AND ENDOSCOPIC CARPAL TUNNEL RELEASE?
In an open carpal tunnel release surgery, the surgeon cuts in the sensitive part of the palm to reach the carpal ligament and decompress the carpal tunnel. The recovery can be more prolonged than with the Endoscopic (keyhole technique).
In an endoscopic carpal tunnel release, the doctor makes 1 or 2 small incisions, avoiding cutting through the skin nerves. This allows more rapid recovery of normal function and often allows return to activity including work and driving with a few days.
ARE YOUR SERVICES COVERED BY MY HEALTH INSURANCE?
If you are seeing our Hand Therapist, and you are in a Health Fund, part of this fee may be claimable, also depending on your level of cover and agreement with your Health Fund.
If you have Health Insurance, part of your surgical fee will be covered through your Health fund, provided you have the correct level of cover, and you will also receive a rebate through Medicare.
If you don't have health insurance, we can discuss our fix-rate fee at the time of your consultation.
WHY DO I REQUIRE NERVE CONDUCTION STUDIES?
Nerve studies, along with your history and examination make up the gold standard of care in diagnosis of Carpal tunnel. That said, not everyone requires a nerve test and if your symptoms are very classical of Carpal tunnel you may not require these at all.
CAN I HAVE ALL OF MY TESTS AND SURGERY PERFORMED ON THE SAME DAY?
Absolutely! If your symptoms and assessment are confirmatory then we plan to offer this for selected patients. Alternatively we can book you at a time that is suitable for you.
IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE HAND THERAPY FOLLOWING MY SURGERY?
Hand therapists are occupational therapists who are specifically trained in all aspects of pre and post operative care of hand and wrist and are an important part of your care. It may not be necessary to have more than one visit for many patients and for some it may require more to achieve your full potential.
WHAT IS A FELLOWSHIP TRAINED HAND SURGEON?
Your surgery will be performed by specialists who have trained specifically in hand and microsurgery. Fellowships are 1-2 years of highly specialised training where the surgeon works in a centre excellence learning from the best surgeons and, therefore, unlike being treated by a general plastic or orthopaedic surgeon, our surgeons have more focussed expertise. They are also trained to deal with any more complex issues in relation to your hand and are able to diagnose and treat other conditions.