Opening the Carpal Tunnel

In addition to cosmetic surgery, Dr. Hetzler has extensive experience with many reconstruction surgeries. One of the more common is surgery to correct carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition that can create numbness, tingling, and eventual function impairment is not a difficult surgery, and is usually successful. The key is to address the problems early.

What is the carpal tunnel?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow, fibrous passage in the wrist that protects the median nerve. This is the nerve responsible for movement and sensation in the hand and thumb, index and middle fingers. Like the Lincoln Tunnel at 5:30, the carpal tunnel can become congested, leading to tingling and numbness in the fingers — carpal tunnel syndrome. When addressing carpal tunnel syndrome, Dr. Hetzler seeks to open up this congestion and head off possible loss of strength and dexterity in the fingers.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

Pressure may build up within the tunnel because of disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis), injury, fluid retention during pregnancy, overuse, or repetitive motions.  Anything that decreases the amount of space in the carpal tunnel, increases the amount of tissue in the tunnel, or increases the sensitivity of the median nerve can lead carpal tunnel syndrome. Basically, the decreasing space starts to put the squeeze on the median nerve. This is a case of nerve impingement or compression. This compression and can lead to numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the affected fingers and thumb of the hand.


Carpal tunnel syndrome is more frequent in people who have repetitive motions in their occupations. The repetition is usually a motion that the person doesn’t even realize they do exactly the same way over and over again. It affects women more often than men. The condition usually begins as an ache in the wrist that may extend down to the forearm or up to the hand. As carpal tunnel syndrome worsens, the patient may experience tingling or numbness in the fingers or pain radiating through the entire arm. The tingling is a sign of issues with the nerve, and this can lead to weakness in the hand in question along with difficulty grasping small objects.

Carpal tunnel release

Splinting of the hand and anti-inflammatory medications are the first step in treatment, but they often won’t correct the problem. Dr. Hetzler then may need to perform a procedure known as carpal tunnel release. It is an outpatient procedure that can be performed two ways: endoscopically or through an open procedure. Which method Dr. Hetzler opts to perform depends on the individual situation of each patient.

Open carpal tunnel release involves a two-inch incision in the middle of the palm. This provides the surgeon a better view of the treated area and involves less risk of accidentally damaging nerves in the area.

Endoscopic carpal tunnel release involves only two tiny incisions and makes for less post-operative pain and a faster return to work. There may be a slightly higher chance of needing another surgery down the road.

If you’ve noticed that you’re beginning to have tingling in your fingers and pain in your wrist, you could be developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Contact Dr. Hetzler at 732-219-0447 and let’s check it out.

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