Faster Recovery for Carpal Tunnel Surgery

More than 13 million Americans suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, and for those who have tried home remedies and over-the-counter medications to no avail, surgery may be the best course of action; however, many people avoid carpal tunnel surgery because they are intimidated by an invasive procedure or they’re concerned about the recovery time.

“Several years ago, patients considering carpal tunnel surgery would have to undergo multiple appointments, an uncomfortable diagnostic test and an invasive surgery that would take months to heal,” said Dr. Christopher Varacallo, orthopedic and sports medicine physician at Penn Highlands Healthcare. “But with carpal tunnel release using ultrasound guidance, the procedure is less invasive and can be performed on an outpatient basis in minutes.”

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by a compressed nerve that runs from your forearm to your hand through a passage called the carpal tunnel. While many people relate carpal tunnel to using a keyboard or other repetitive motions, it is actually caused by genetics (people with small carpal tunnels and women are at higher risk) and health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and obesity.

Symptoms include:

  • Tingling or numbness in your fingers or hand, especially while holding things, such as a steering wheel, phone or newspaper;
  • Weakness in your hand that may cause you to drop objects;
  • Shock-like feelings that move into your fingers;
  • Tingling sensation that moves up your arm.

What is carpal tunnel release surgery?

Carpal tunnel release (CTR) surgery is used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. CTR relieves pressure on the median nerve by transecting or dividing the transverse carpal ligament, which forms the roof of the carpal tunnel, to create more space for the nerve and tendons.

What is carpal tunnel release using ultrasound guidance?

When performing carpal tunnel release using ultrasound guidance, the surgeon utilizes the SX-One MicroKnife®, low-profile, safe and effective instrument that allows the surgeon to perform the procedure in a matter of minutes. When the SX-One MicroKnife is used with ultrasound guidance, physicians are able to perform CTR surgery through a small, less disruptive incision while the ultrasound provides improved visualization of all critical anatomy in the wrist.

What are the advantages of carpal tunnel release and ultrasound guidance?

Patients may experience significant benefits:

  • Performed in a procedure room or office setting, rather than an operating room;
  • Can be performed using local anesthesia;
  • Small incision is typically closed without stitches;
  • Reduces or eliminates the need for opioids;
  • Restorative physical therapy is typically not required, saving you time and money;
  • Immediate motion in the hand for rapid recovery.

What’s the recovery period like?

Compared to traditional CTR procedures, carpal tunnel release using ultrasound guidance offers a faster recovery period. Most patients return to normal activity in a few days, rather than a few months, and typically only need Tylenol or ibuprofen to manage post-operative pain. After the procedure, you’ll be able to resume activities as tolerated. Most patients typically return to work and the activities they love within three to six days.

Penn Highlands Orthopedics offers specialized care for a wide range of bone and joint conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome. The orthopedic specialists at Penn Highlands can assess your injury or joint condition and recommend the appropriate treatment, from physical therapy to arthroscopic surgery to joint replacement. To learn more, please visit