No matter the treatments and help you’ve received for your carpal tunnel, it can return without proper changes to the way you use your hands and wrists. This can be difficult if your hobbies or job puts excessive strain on your wrists, even if you’ve had carpal tunnel surgery to remedy the issue.
It’s important to learn techniques to protect yourself from carpal tunnel returning. There is no way to completely stop carpal tunnel, but you can reduce the stress and strain on your hands and wrists to keep it from getting worse.
Returning Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
There are several reasons why carpal tunnel symptoms can return, even if surgery has been performed. One way it can return is via the scar tissue that forms after surgery which can compress the median nerve. Another can be due to swelling at the surgical site, which also compresses the median nerve. In some rare cases, the nerve can be permanently damaged before the surgery, so while the procedure releases pressure from the nerve, the symptoms may remain due to that damage.
Recurring carpal tunnel can show itself in several ways:
- Wrist pain
- Numbness or ringing in your thumb and first three fingers
- Hand weakness or clumsiness
- Reduced grip strength
- Worsening symptoms over time
Some people may only experience one or two of the typical symptoms for years or on random occasions.
Tunnel Release Surgery
For those who have progressively worsening carpal tunnel, an outpatient procedure exists to help heal carpal tunnel. The procedure releases the pressure on the median nerve and tendons passing through the tunnel by cutting through the ligament that is pressing down on it.
Carpal tunnel surgery may be recommended if:
- Nonsurgical treatment hasn’t relieved the pain
- An electromyography test of the median nerve determines that you have carpal tunnel, as the symptoms can be very similar to other issues in the hand, wrist, or nerve.
- The symptoms have lasted longer than six months
- The muscles in the hands or wrists are weak and shrinking due to the severe pinching of the median nerve.
Tips For Protecting Against Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Returning
As mentioned earlier, there is no complete way to prevent carpal tunnel from returning or developing. However, there are numerous things you can do to help stop it from returning or slowing its progression:
- Take regular breaks: Giving your hands a ten to fifteen-minute break every hour is a good idea, especially if you are using tools that vibrate or require a lot of force.
- Stretch your hands: During these breaks or throughout the day, your hands benefit from making a fist, sliding your fingers up until they point straight, and repeating five to ten times.
- Mind your wrists: You’ll want to avoid bending your wrist all the way up or down as it places unnecessary pressure on your median nerve. Try to keep your wrist in a straight and neutral position.
- Avoid repetitive motion: Carpal tunnel is partially caused by repetitive use of your hands, wrist, and thumbs. Try to avoid doing the same motions with them over and over by mixing the task up to give your muscles a break.
- See an occupational therapist: An occupational therapist can show you exercises to help stretch and strengthen your hand and wrists while also giving advice on how to change repeat motions to ease your stress.
Help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you feel the symptoms of carpal tunnel returning or want to explore surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, the team at Proliance Puget Sound Orthopaedics provides best-in-class orthopedic care to the community with compassion and caring, and dedicated expertise. If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms listed previously or need treatment, we encourage you to call (253) 830 – 5200 or request an appointment online to see one of our physicians.