What You Need to Know About Hand, Wrist, and Elbow Surgeries: Carpal Tunnel, Trigger Finger, and Cubital Tunnel Release
When pain, numbness, injury, or other issues impact your hands, wrists, or elbows, it can disrupt your daily activities and work. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t put off treatment!
As an orthopaedically trained hand surgeon, Paul Chubb, D.O., brings years of experience treating a diverse range of hand, wrist, and elbow issues. And he wants to help his patients find relief from pain and discomfort. Among the treatments he provides, the most common are surgeries for carpal tunnel release, trigger finger release, and cubital tunnel release.
If you’ve been diagnosed with any of these conditions, here’s what you need to know about how Dr. Chubb and Sun City Orthopaedics can help.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Release?
If you experience regular tingling or numbness in your hand, it might be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. This occurs when the carpal ligament in the wrist is injured or tight, leading to swelling of the tissues in the carpal tunnel, which then presses on the median nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur as the result of an injury or a genetic predisposition, or it can be tied to diabetes, arthritis, thyroid disease, or even pregnancy. In many cases, symptoms can be treated through options such as wrist splints, physical therapy, or pain medication. However, if nonsurgical options do not work or symptoms get worse over time, your doctor may recommend carpal tunnel release surgery.
Carpal tunnel release:
- Is an outpatient surgery, so you can go home the same day.
- May be performed as an open surgery, in which your surgeon cuts open the wrist, or as an endoscopic surgery in which the surgeon uses a camera and small incisions.
- Requires your wrist to be in a splint for one to two weeks following surgery.
What Is Trigger Finger Release?
Trigger finger is the result of a condition that causes a finger or thumb to be stuck in a bent position. It is typically caused by a constricted tendon sheath in the finger or thumb and can be corrected with surgery.
Trigger finger can result from work or hobbies that require repetitive gripping actions or can occur as a result of illnesses such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms can include stiffness in the finger, popping or clicking when you move your finger, or your finger or thumb getting caught or locked in a bent position. If you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor to seek treatment and avoid further damage to your tendon over time.
Medication, rest and physical therapy, or a steroid injection may be recommended for trigger finger. If symptoms are severe or do not improve, you may need surgery.
Trigger finger release:
- Is an outpatient surgery and is done while you are awake.
- May be performed as an open surgery, which requires a small incision in the finger or thumb, or as an percutaneous release surgery in which the surgeon uses an ultrasound and needle to perform the procedure through the skin, without making any incisions.
- Requires at minimum a few days or up to two weeks of rest and recovery, depending on your circumstances and the type of work you do.
What Is Cubital Tunnel Release?
Cubital tunnel syndrome is the result of ulnar nerve entrapment, when the ulnar nerve gets compressed or irritated. This most often occurs in the elbow and can lead to numbness and tingling in the hands. You may also feel like your hand is falling asleep, in particular around the ring finger and little finger. Increased difficulty with gripping objects or finger coordination may also be signs of cubital tunnel syndrome.
A number of things can cause cubital tunnel syndrome, including injury to the elbow, repetitive activities, arthritis, or cysts. No matter the cause, it’s important to seek treatment!
Rest, splints, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended as treatment options. However, if your symptoms do not improve, your doctor may advise you to pursue surgical treatment.
Cubital tunnel release:
- Is a same-day outpatient procedure, much like carpal tunnel and trigger finger release.
- Involves making an incision about 4-5 inches in length in the elbow to allow the surgeon to perform nerve decompression. There are several release surgery options, and your doctor will determine which is best for your situation.
- Requires at least a few weeks of recovery in which your arm is bandaged and movement is limited. Depending on the surgical release option, recovery time can vary.
Recovering from Surgery
For each of these three surgeries — carpal tunnel release, trigger finger release, or cubital tunnel release — recovery includes rest, in some cases ice and pain medication, and physical therapy as directed by your surgeon. It’s important to closely follow directions provided by your surgeon to support a swift and full recovery.
In most cases, you’ll feel significantly less pain after two to three weeks, so you can get back to your daily activities as approved by your doctor.
If you’ve been diagnosed or are experiencing symptoms associated with carpal tunnel, trigger finger, or cubital tunnel syndrome, contact us at Sun City Orthopaedics to schedule an appointment.