More than 50% of patients regain thumb opposition after carpal tunnel release surgery on the wrist and hand. These were the findings from a recent study.
Recovered thumb opposition was found in 52.3% of patients who underwent the surgery. Patients under 50 years of age were more likely to exhibit such improvements than older patients. Thumb opposition was measured by having patients perform a pulp pinch between their thumbs and middle fingers. The findings may be considered significant given that carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with weakening and possible atrophying of the thenar muscles. These are the muscles that help move your thumb and enable it to touch or oppose the other fingertips on your same hand. The study led by Tatsuki Ebata, MD, of Chiba University was presented at the American Society for Surgery of the Hand Annual Meeting.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is estimated to affect about 3 to 6% of adults according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. It is caused by pressure on the median nerve in your wrist that can trigger pain, tingling and other symptoms. Carpal tunnel release is an outpatient surgery that typically requires wearing a splint or heavy bandage for about a week afterwards. It is sometimes an endoscopic procedure using a small camera attached to a monitor to view the inside of the wrist. Cuts are made in the palm of the hand near the wrist and in the carpal transverse ligament to reduce pressure on the median nerve.
While the study findings are interesting, prevention is still the best course. You can reduce your risk of CTS by avoiding weight gain and managing conditions like arthritis and diabetes. It is also important not to smoke and to follow appropriate ergonomic guidelines during daily activities including computer work. If you must perform repetitive actions with your hands and wrists, take frequent breaks and alternate between different tasks.
Mild and occasional pain or discomfort in your hand is often due to inflammation that may respond to home treatments. Try discontinuing whatever activity appears to trigger the symptoms such as driving or typing. Give your hands and wrists a rest. Apply ice to your wrists up to twice an hour for up to 15 minutes at a time. It may also help to wear a wrist splint while sleeping.
Consult a physician to discuss your individual needs if you have any concerns about CTS or if symptoms like pain and tingling in your hands continue for more than a week. There are many medical options that can provide a full recovery.
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