Preventing Scar Tissue After Your Open Carpal Tunnel Surgery

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, then your doctor may suggest the completion of an open carpal tunnel release surgery with an orthopedic surgeon. This operation is meant to reduce the pain, tingling, and numbness that you feel. After the operation is completed, you will need to heal. However, scar tissue may form extensively around the surgical area. Find out why this is an issue and how you can prevent it.

Why Is Scar Tissue A Problem?

Carpel tunnel syndrome is caused by the pinching of the median nerve in your wrist. This nerve sits in a small area where blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and other tissues are compacted in your wrist. Sometimes, this small space, called the carpal tunnel, can shrink. This causes the tissues in the region to place direct pressure on the median nerve, and the nerve releases strong distress signals in the way of pain and tingling sensations. Shrinking is often caused by swelling of the tendons and ligaments in the wrist.

To help reduce pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, surgery can be completed that widens the carpal tunnel so the median nerve can sit comfortably in your body. A procedure called an open carpal tunnel surgery is scheduled where the carpal ligament is cut. This ligament sits at the base of the palm, and cutting it creates space as the tissue separates. Your surgeon will leave the ligament open, and scar tissue will connect the two sides of the ligament. This effectively widens the ligament so there is more space in the carpal tunnel.

Scar tissue can sometimes form too thick though, and this can close off the open space in the wrist again. More surgical procedures may need to be scheduled, or you might have to deal with carpal tunnel pain once again. You can ensure a successful operation by helping your body to control scar tissue formation.

How Do You Reduce The Formation Of Scar Tissue?

Do Not Use A Brace

Open carpal tunnel syndrome requires the placement of a fairly large incision. The incision is typically about two inches long and closed with surgical stitches. You will likely be asked to keep the incision area covered with a bandage for a few days to a week. You will feel pain during this time, and you may need to keep your wrist immobile. While some operations and conditions may require the use of a brace for several weeks, braces should be avoided if your surgeon says you are healing normally.

If you use a brace, then all of the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves in your wrist will be unable to move for some time. As scar tissue starts to connect the ends of your carpal ligament, the tissue may over-develop and start to build inside the carpal tunnel. While this can happen naturally as your body goes through the tissue repair process, the movement of the ligaments and muscles in the area will release and break up scar tissue that has deposited on and near the healthy tissues. This is a good thing to keep the carpal tunnel open, and a brace will keep this from happening.

Initial movements may be painful. If pain is problematic for you, then your surgeon can develop a pain-management strategy to reduce discomfort instead of providing you with a brace. Steroidal and nonsteroidal medication as well as physical therapy are typically part of this management plan.

Complete Incision Massage

Scar tissue is likely to form around your incision after carpal tunnel surgery. Since the incision is typically quite long, the scar tissue can press on the healing carpal ligament and force it into the carpal tunnel. This can cause median nerve pressure. You will need to make sure that incision scar tissue is controlled, and the massage of the area can help to break up some of the tissue that forms before it solidifies.

Incision massage can often start after stitches are removed. If your orthopedic surgeon says you can resume normal activities, then you can start massaging the incision. Make sure to use lotion on the area to reduce friction and to help your fingers move along the surgical area. Start at the top of the incision and use your index and middle finger to place firm but gentle pressure on the area.  Move your fingers in a circle and slowly move down the incision. Move back up the incision towards your hand when you reach the bottom and continue to move up and down the area for about five minutes. You should do this every two to three hours each day. 

For more information, contact a doctor like Soloway Stephen MD Arthritis & Rheumatology.

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Working With Excellent Physicians

I have never been one of those people who love going to the doctor, but a few years ago I was told that I had a serious back condition. I needed my doctor's help to cope with the daily pain I was experiencing, and it really helped a lot. My team of medical professionals was excellent, and I quickly found my condition well-controlled and comfortable. This blog is all about finding the right team of doctors and communicating with them effectively. By knowing how to choose a doctor and talk with them in a clear, concise manner, you can make your recovery easier.