Peripheral nerve surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes numbness, pain, pins and needles and tingling in the thumb, fingers and parts of the palm of the hand. The underlying cause is compression of the median nerve, which passes under the carpal ligament, the strong ligament that stretches cross-ways and that holds the bones of the wrist in place. The nerve passes from your arm into your hand through a small space called the carpal tunnel.

When the ligament presses onto the median nerve for a long period of time, the nerve becomes compressed and this may need surgery to relieve the pressure to allow the nerve to recover.

This is a fairly straightforward operation and generally brings about an immediate improvement in pain. The numbness and tingling wear off over the next few months as the nerve gets back to normal.

The operation to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome is generally done under local anaesthetic, sometimes in combination with a sedative and you might be asked to lie down or to sit up in a chair with your arm extended. We also offer open or minimally invasive laparoscopic carpal tunnel surgery; whichever procedure you have, you can expect it to be completed in half an hour. The carpal ligament is located, and then cut cleanly so that it can no longer exert pressure on the median nerve.

Surgical treatment of ulnar decompression

If the ulnar nerve becomes compressed at the elbow, where it also passes through a small tunnel, this can cause tingling in the ring finger and little finger. The surgery to relieve pressure on the ulnar nerve is a little more complex, and you may have a general anaesthetic and need to stay overnight.

Treating peroneal neuropathy

Compression of the peroneal nerve just below the knee is usually caused by knocking the knee, kneeling heavily or twisting your ankle. When the nerve becomes compressed, this causes pain in the foot and calf, numbness or tingling in the top of the foot and it can lead to a condition called foot drop.

When you cross your legs, your foot will drop downwards as you have no control over the muscles that draw it up towards your knee. Surgical treatment involves an incision below the knee to release the pressure on the nerve. Again, you are likely to have a general anaesthetic and stay in hospital overnight.