Get Answers to Your Questions in Our Nerve Damage and Surgery FAQ
Why does my foot look different after my knee replacement surgery? Should it hurt to have sex after a C-section? How can I relieve the pressure on a trapped nerve? Our FAQ page has the answers you need to kick chronic pain for good.
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Can carpal tunnel syndrome cause pain all the way to my shoulder?
Shoulder pain is an often overlooked symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the pinching of the median nerve affects more than just your hand. You may experience pain or numbness in every muscle and joint between the tips of the fingers and the cortex of the brain.
How Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Can Lead to Shoulder Pain
The carpal tunnel is a narrow region in the wrist that is located on the side of the palm. It protects the tendons that are responsible for bending the fingers, as well as the median nerve. When there is too much pressure in this area, a person can experience weakness, numbness, or tingling in the fingers and hand.
Over time, the entire functionality of a person’s arm can be affected. Shoulder pain can be intense and constant, or it can occur with specific motions such as reaching overhead or behind the back. This can make it difficult to handle everyday tasks as simple as brushing your hair or putting away your groceries after a shopping trip.
Getting a Diagnosis for Carpal Tunnel
Do not attempt to diagnose your condition at home. Although it’s estimated that about 75% of cases of shoulder pain are related to carpal tunnel syndrome, there are a number of other medical problems that can also cause similar pain and limited range of motion. A doctor can perform a full examination to determine if carpal tunnel syndrome is the culprit.
Ultrasound-Guided Carpal Tunnel Release Can Help
Dr. Eric H. Williams understands that you don’t want to spend several weeks or even months recovering from a traditional endoscopic procedure or open surgery. Ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release with the SX-One MicroKnife is an innovative alternative that relieves symptoms with a minimal recovery time and no need for follow-up physical therapy.
You deserve to be able to work, care for your family, and enjoy your favorite hobbies without pain. Contact our Towson office to learn more about how ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release can get you back to making the most of each day.
Will regular computer use increase my risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
It’s a common misconception that office workers who spend their days typing at a computer are placing themselves at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. A 2001 study in Neurology conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, offers insight into the prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome among office workers. This study looked at office workers who used their computer keyboards for six to seven hours per day and did not find an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome compared to other workers. Only 3.5% of the 250 workers in the study met the diagnostic criteria for carpal tunnel syndrome—a rate that was similar to the general population.
Computer Use Makes Symptoms More Noticeable
While typing doesn’t cause a person to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, it can make the symptoms of the condition more noticeable. Office workers who experience numbness, tingling, and burning in the fingers or pain that travels up the forearm towards the shoulder while typing should consult their healthcare provider for a diagnosis. A doctor can rule out conditions with overlapping symptoms, such as tendonitis.
Office Workers May Have Other Risk Factors
The mistaken belief that typing causes carpal tunnel syndrome may be related to the fact that office workers often have other risk factors for the condition. Women, especially those who are experiencing hormonal changes due to pregnancy or menopause, have an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are also known risk factors.
Get Carpal Tunnel Treatment at Our Towson Office
If carpal tunnel symptoms are interfering with your workday despite using wrist splints and over-the-counter pain relievers, you may be a good candidate for ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release. CTR with the SX-One MicroKnife and ultrasound guidance relieves symptoms with a minimal recovery time. Most patients can return to their daily activities in three to six days without any post-operative physical therapy.
Dr. Eric H. Williams, a nerve expert who specializes in reconstructive surgery and pain relief, knows that the demands of your work may not allow for you to spend several weeks or even months recovering from a traditional endoscopic procedure or open surgery. Learn more about your options for quickly and effectively addressing your carpal tunnel pain by contacting our Towson office.
What should I expect during recovery from ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release surgery?
Please note that not every case is the same. There may be factors that change your expected recovery situation, and we will discuss these possibilities with you during your examination.
On average, however, you will be wide awake during the procedure, so no grogginess will be present afterwards. However, should patients wish to have sedation arrangement for this can be provided in advance. The total time you should spend with us is about 1 to 2 hours, with a fraction of that being the procedure itself.
Your incision may be closed with adhesive bandages or a single tiny suture if needed, but you will not have to immobilize your wrist. A Band-Aid or light dressing will be applied over the incision. Standard over-the-counter medication should be all you need to manage discomfort after surgery; however, stronger medication will be prescribed if needed.
Recovery from the soreness of surgery typically takes 3-6 days, compared to weeks with other methods of carpal tunnel release. Resolution of the nerve symptoms of carpal tunnel vary for every patient depending on many factors – including length of time you have had the nerve compression, and the severity of the compression.
The worse the disease, the longer it can take for the nerve to recover. Moderate nerve symptoms are expected to resolve very quickly; frequently the symptoms of numbness, tingling, and pain that were present prior to surgery can resolve within hours, days, or weeks.
What are the benefits of carpal tunnel release with ultrasound guidance?
There are many! To name several1,2:
- A small incision (3-5 mm) above wrist crease on the forearm is all that is required compared to open scar on the palm of the hand or a potentially slightly larger incision with and endoscopic releases.
- The procedure itself takes only a matter of minutes.
- Carpal tunnel release with ultrasound guidance can be performed entirely within our office, with no need for a hospital or surgical center.
- Only local anesthesia is typically required.
- Sutures are rarely needed to close the small incision. Adhesive strips are often enough.
- There is no need for a brace or cast.
- The patient can return to most daily activities almost immediately (though we do emphasize caution – no reason to be fool hearty!
- Most patients will be able to return to work very quickly after surgery, typically within 3-6 days.
1. Rojo-Manaute JM, Capa-Grasa A, Chana-Rodriguez F, et al. Ultra-minimally invasive sonographically guided carpal tunnel release: a randomized clinical trial. J Ultrasound Med. 2016 Jun;35(6):1149-1157.
2. Henning PT, Yang L, Awan T, et al. Minimally invasive ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release: preliminary clinical results. J Ultrasound Med. 2018 Nov;37(11):2699-2706.
How does carpal tunnel release using ultrasound guidance differ from other carpal tunnel release techniques?
More traditional forms of carpal tunnel release either involve an open incision or the use of an endoscope inserted through an incision in order to see where to operate.
Carpal tunnel release performed under the guidance of ultrasound uses an external means of determining where to operate, and a new instrument called the SX-One MicroKnife® is placed through a small incision to perform the release.
SX-One MicroKnife is a registered trademark of Sonex Health, Inc.
How fast do nerves recover?
How badly the nerve is injured will affect how fast it can recover. If a nerve is cut in half and sewn together, it can grow at the rate of an inch a month or a millimeter a day. If the nerve is mildly pinched but still functional, then it can recover function in a few hours or a few days.
As the nerve compression gets more severe or if it has been compressed a long time, it can take months for nerves to improve. The nerve will regenerate better in younger patients than in older patients. However, we do see nerve regeneration and functional improvement even in the elderly.
How long will it take to recover from my surgery?
Generally, post-operative instructions call for rest and limited movement in order to speed up the healing process and recovery time. The length of recovery varies with each procedure and is different for each individual. Bruises usually disappear within a few days, and most swelling is gone in a matter of weeks. Your scars will fade over time but are permanent. All patients recover at a different rates. Patients who have been in pain for years may take a lot longer to heal and feel better than those have have a fairly recent problem. Those patients who are already taking a large amount of pain medication will require more medication than those who are not taking large doses of medication. Each patient is a little different. Those who are more active before surgery and who are able to push through daily activities despite their discomfort, will be more active after surgery. Our favorite post surgical recovery "therapy" is water therapy. Getting in a swimming pool and walking in the water does wonders for the lower extremity patients.
What is tarsal tunnel syndrome?
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a nerve compression disorder in which the main nerve to your foot gets pinched in a tight location. The tibial nerve branches into three nerves in the ankle -- the medial plantar, lateral plantar, and calcaneal nerves. Patients may present with slightly different symptoms, but most have some component of numbness, tingling, burning pain, or sharp stabbing electrical type pains that radiate into the sole of the foot and the toes. It is often worse with activities and better with rest.
How do I know if surgery is right for me?
There are several important factors that come into play when deciding whether surgery is the right option for you. One of the most important factors is your health. Being in good health greatly reduces the risk of complications occurring during surgery and leads to a speedy recovery. Next, you need to ask yourself what is your level of pain, discomfort, disability, or functional loss. Then, you need to understand the common and not so common risks of surgery and the healing process. Finally, you should be able to express your expectations to your physician. You should not proceed until you understand to potential risks for a procedure, and have a clear understanding of a reasonable expectation for what can hopefully be achieved.
Is peripheral nerve surgery safe?
All surgical procedures are accompanied by a certain degree of risk. Our expert team is dedicated to making your operation go smoothly. We careful review your medical history and current health condition before deciding if it is safe for you to proceed with surgery. It is important that you fully disclose all pertinent information so that we are able to make an accurate assessment of the risks involved. We will take every precaution necessary to reduce the possibility of any complications.