Results of carpal tunnel surgery?

Tommy P

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Nov 16, 2003
Mid North Indiana
Have searched the archives and found some info on this subject but would like some others experiences. I've been having classic symptoms and now have been diagnosed with severe CTS in both wrists. Hands and arms go numb when I sleep...loss of gripping strength, etc. Now wear splints at night. Hands are stiff most of the time...yadda,yadda,yadda....

If I go with the surgery (I hear putting it off is not a real wise idea) what can I expect as far as my continuing line of work. Has anyone else gone through this surgery and how are you doing now with framing?

I think framing (and being almost 53) has brought on this condition. But I don't want to stop what I do....

p.s. I've tried the wrist injections.....never again!!
I'm with ya, Tom! AND arthritis in my thumb bases... braces most of the time and Akeve, my friend now that they took Vioxx off the market because of a few wussy heart attacks...
I have been diagnosed with the same thing (both hands) and had the surgery a couple years ago on just my right hand. I work with computers all day and couldn't sleep at night because of the constant pain.

There are two kinds of surgery for this. The newer endoscopy method which has a quicker healing time(small device inserted which cuts through a small hole), and the time proven method of slicing it open and doing the repairs. I choose the regular method and was (semi) awake for the procedure, which took all of about 30 minutes. It was almost completely painless and we stopped off for breakfast on the way home from the hospital, and I was back at the computer typing again the very next day (at dr's recommendations).

My (other) employer made me take a full 4 weeks out of work, but I was able to work some side jobs during the recovery period and was healed/ready to go back to work in about 2 weeks.

I sleep normally now and most of the feeling and strength has come back to my hand. I highly recommend getting it done. It was relatively painless and healed fast.

One thing that helped me sleep, prior to the surgery, was a wrist brace.

Well, I had CTS in my left hand bought on by working in a Fabric Store...constant flipping fabric bolts.....I am sure it was not as severe as yours doctor wanted to operate...and I didn' was in physical therapy for about 6 months....I still have some flare ups occasionally..but I start doing my hand excercises and it helps....probably wouldn't have the flare ups if I did the exercises all the time, instead of just when I start having problems..had 2 aunts have the surgery and they both regret doing it...father in law had the physical therapy and he was so glad he did not go the surgery route.....for what it is experience
I assume you had a complete diagnostic workup. You said your arms go numb which makes me wonder if you are having some nerve problems from either your elbow, armpit or neck. A proper workup would determine that.

Just a FYI - a second opinion never hurts if you feel the need.
I have had a pretty good rash of tests.....xrays, showed degenarative disc disease (Lord, it's fun getting old!) but Doc says that makes the funny feelin in my leg and foot, not my hands and arms problem. I also had that "nerve conductivity" test done...thats where they attach little electrode type things to your hands and then touch you all around your wrist and arm area with A CATTLE PROD!! to see if they get the appropriate reaction (besides wetting yourself). Lots of fun...for the technician!

And WOW Mike.....your experience with the traditional fix sounded not to bad...can't believe you were back at the keyboard so fast.

I've got to do something....sleeping is no fun anymore and gripping tools in the shop is deteriating.Even typing this is making my hands go numb...

My Dad always said growing old aint for sissys!!!
I had the same problem, Tom. I had one injection.....I'd rather have the pain
back. The injection is torture.

I have been going to an acupuncturist for 5 to 6 months and I have NONE of the
pain I was having before, and the numbness and tingling have almost gone away
too. It is truly amazing. I am able to sleep all through the night. What a
difference that makes!

It is definitely worth a try. At first I went once a week for a month or so, then
spaced it out to 2 weeks, 3 weeks and now I'm up to 4 weeks. I had some relief
immediately and after 4 or 5 months I was virtually pain free. I take the herbs he gives me in addition to the acupuncture, actually Chinese medicine encompasses several treatment types that work together cure the problem. In addition, I've used a herb called Moxa in the form of a cigar that you light and hold up to certain points on the hand and wrist to heat them. You can feel your hands relaxing as you do it. I've had electricity hooked up to the needles and it is not unpleasant at all. I expect to be able to regain the strength at some point.
Tom I have been diagnosed with MODERATE CTS in both hands I also have degenerative disc disease in my Lumbar area along with a couple of bulgeing disc and one herniated disc in the same area and some nueropathies in the pelvic area ( talk about FUN EMGs)and the cervical area and CIDP ( Chronic Inflammatory Demylinateing Polynueropathy) all of which can cause pain and /or numbness.

However I was told that since the CTS is moderate and I am able to function ( walk and use my hands) to avoid the surgey until it prevents me from functioning normally.

But some side notes( since I have had a slew of EMGs,some very specialized) the cervical nueropathies can cause arm numbness. And the hand numbness can be CTS and Ulnar intrapment. It all depends on which Fingers go numb. ( if it is the thumb and the first two fingers it is likely CTS if it is the last three fingers it may be Ulnar intrapment which is just like CTS only the area in which the nerve is being pinched is in your elbow as opposed to the area in the palm of your hand just below your thumb. Both will occur while you sleep but the Ulnar thing may be noticable when you put pressure on your elbow (bending your arm .LOL) or when you use your hands it a bent elbow position for extened times. I normally just drop my hand and shake it a wile to get quick temporary relief.
But follow the recomandations of your neurologist they Know what you need better than any of us.
What Buddy said. I have the distinct pleasure of 'hosting' Ankylosing Spondylosis(ain't sure of the spelling), which is a degenerative, arthritic misery in my cervical vertebrae, C2 thru C6. There are several on here, Mrs. Buddy included, that have had the surgery to repair it. The tricksy thing about it is that up there, in the very top of your neck, you don't quite have a spinal cord yet. Instead there's a 'Brain Stem'. The spondylosis surgery is not to be sneezed at. Any damage to the brain stem, IE: Doctor says, "Aw, ****!!!" can affect or stop the functioning of your heart, lungs, etc.

Mrs. Buddy and one of the NC framers, maybe Jerry, had the surgery and highly reccommended it. The new surgery with the tiny little cuts. I will probably have to have mine done within the next year, and, frankly, am looking forward to it. Spondylosis is easily seen on a mere X-ray, by the way. I'm sure they'd order an MRI before surgery.

I never wake up with my hands hurting. I am just slowly losing the sense of touch in my fingertips. And, God forbid my index finger ever gets cold! It will remain so for a day or so. Doc told me that was indicative of neuropathy, which means the nerve(s) are literally dying. (I've gotten sorta attached to my nerves over the years, and I don't want them to start dying on me!)

If you've been correctly diagnosed with CTS, I'd go stand in line to get the surgery! Fact is, something(nerves) ain't where it's supposed to be, and the only sort of permanent relief is to put 'em back where they belong.
Thanks everyone for your advice and stories of your own malodies. I will be calling my hand surgeon down in Indianapolis...fortunately he is one of the best in the world.

You know, I'm almost 53, people say I look more like 35 and I feel about 70!! You just can't win with this growing older thing.....
My mother had this and ignored it untill it got so bad she couldn't stand it and went to have the surgery. She now has permanent nerve damage and even had to have the right hand done twice.

The Doctor said she just waited too late and the damage was severe.

She regrets waiting and wishes she would have gone as soon as the pain started.
I have an employee that went as soon as he had problems, had the surgery and had a full recovery with no permanent nerve damage.
Just something to think about.

I have gotten to the point that I can't work with a construction hammer for more than about 10 minutes before the hand and arm goes numb. I finally bought a Paslode gas powered hammer to solve that problem. When I pin needlework on the foam core, my hands go dead numb and I have to drop my arms down to my sides and shake them and I can feel the tingling as they come back to life.
I gave up riding motorcycles many years ago because I couldn't feel my grip on the handle bars. Sort of scary, don't ya know!!

Having read all of the above postings, I've come to the conclusion that framing is hazardous to our health!! I'd call OSHA and then go on permanent disability, if I wasn't self employed.
I'm so glad this topic came up. Using the computer mouse aggravates my hand and wrist. Ibuprofen and Aspercreme seem to help.

I suppose I'll have to bite the bullet and see a doctor about it. :eek:

What are some of the exercises some of you mentioned?
I've had mild to moderate CTS for many years. It used to be worse when I did alot of photo retouching using brushes and dyes. For some reason, now that I do most of it on the computer, I don't have as many problems. I do use a Wacom pen instead of a mouse, which probably makes a difference. I also try to always use some kind of wrist support. All my mouse pads have those gel rests in them. Seems to make a big difference when I'm working on the computer for any length of time.

In the work room, you might also want to try looking at how you hold and use your tools. Sometimes something as simple as adjusting the height of a table to a more comfortable level can make a difference in how you use your wrist.

I still have times when my wrist goes numb, like the other day when I was doing some sewing, but they aren't as common as they used to be and I don't have to use my wrist braces any more. I like to knit and I notice that if I knit a little bit each day, my wrists seem to get stronger and hurt less.

Now if they could just figure out which nerves are causing the weird tingling in my mouth, I'd be all set!
That's the one telling you it needs more chocolate!!!
I've had some form of arthritis in the base of my right thumb for years, or so I'm told its arthritis (the age thing also).
About 6 mos. ago I was making a screw-eye hole with the awl,it slipped and drove about halfway thru the tissue between my thumb and forefinger causing quite a painful, deep puncture wound but after the initial pain I was completely pain-free from the arthritis for about 4 mos. That was the most blissful 4 mos of pain free framing I can remember ( again, the age thing).
I was making a screw-eye hole with the awl,it slipped and drove about halfway thru the tissue between my thumb and forefinger causing quite a painful, deep puncture wound
Ow! That made me wince. :eek:
I too had this problem and have been seeing a message therapist. She works from my neck down and have been feeling great. A second opinion is always great to get.
Tom, have had a total of 9 surgeries on my two hands. As for CTS the first two times they did them orthoscopicaly....tiny little holes and they can't see ****. The second set of surgery, they opened the wrist so they could see what was up....

I'm a big guy, but my wrist was only 7" around.... great for waving bye bye to Stevie, but not great for a 6' 250lb woodworker, and writer spending a few hours a day at the keyboard.

When the surgeon made the first slice on the facia, (think of it as a girdle) the pressure from the muscles, veins, artery, and nerve cannal pushed hard enough to tear the cut another centimeter. (the doc was used to me and was letting me watch :D )

He looked at me and said "well there's the problem. There's a big boy trying to get out of that tiny girdle."

Remember, this is the second time around. So as he looked for the first surgeons work, we saw that most of the relief insision never went all the way through the facia.

So the second time with a good surgeon who could see what was happening, he made many relief cuts until all of the pressure was off.

I waited around the hospital, having lunch, and then drove myself home on my motorcycle.
The next morning of all the surguries I couldn't stand watching TV and was out in the woodshop.

When the wife had her's done, she took the 4 weeks of paid leave....
The <strike>God</strike> told her and me that if the surgeon is as good as him, it only has to be done once.
Guess who's getting nerve tested this afternoon.

Don't put the surgury off. Get the traditional opening. Use your hands and wrist so the "girdle" heals the correct size. And remember Vicodin is really good with Micro Brews.
Myself talking to the wife..."Gee honey, I'll have to get that Harley I've always wanted because Baer said that's how I'll need to get home from the hospital after my surgery! And I'll also have to drink plenty of brew to wash down the pain killers."
She's not a very understanding woman though...

Sounds like the traditional surgery is the best way to go....
Just wanted to share a simple procedure that has not been addressed. My Mom was diagnosed with severe CT in her right wrist. She was scheduled for surgery when we heard somewhere that it can be caused by a pinched nerve in the neck. After 5 Chiropractic treatments, she no longer requires surgery and it is completely gone.

Same thing with my partner last year. His arm and wrist were tingling, sore and going to sleep on him. After getting his shoulder and neck cracked, the symptoms went away.