My Carpal Tunnel Surgeries : One Year On

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Just over a year ago I had my second carpal tunnel operation. I've had the operation on both hands so thought after a year it might be a good time to give an update! I asked on twitter if people were interested in how I was getting on and the answer was a resounding yes, so as promised, here it is.

Appearance wise, my hands look basically exactly the same as they did after the initial wound healed. The scars haven't really faded, but unless you are looking for them, you aren't going to notice them. They don't bother me at all, and have healed without any keloiding or tissue build up.

The easiest way to talk about how my hands are a year on is going to be to talk about each hand individually. So let's start with the good, my left hand.

My left hand was the 'better' of the two hands, but it was no longer responding to steroid injections (of which I had many in both hands) and was massively impacting on my day-to-day life. Post operation, my left hand is incredible. It doesn't hurt on a daily basis anymore, and is ten times more usable than it was before. I can easily pick things up with it, I can cross my fingers again (something I couldn't do at all before!), and it is very rare that it aches. It only aches if I have been doing a lot of repetitive movements, and then by the next day it feels back to normal again. As far as I am really aware, my left hand feels basically like any other hand on someone without carpal tunnel. The results have been truly incredible and I am beyond happy with my left hand.

And now, my right hand. Ah my right hand. How I wish I could say that my results were as good as my left. My right hand was by far the worst of the two hands pre operation, to the point that my doctor could not even attempt to give me a steroid injection as the needle was unable to penetrate my nerve. Before the operation it was a mess. It was painful all the time, I had lost a lot of movement in my fingers and wrist, and it was pretty useless if I'm honest. I couldn't open bottles, use scissors, hold anything for any real length of time, even lifting up a glass of water was too much. When my surgeons opened up my wrist they commented about how bad it was, and the operation took a lot longer than my left hand, testament to how much harder it was to perform due to how much more advanced the carpal tunnel was.

It took a lot longer to heal than my left, and was a lot more painful afterwards too. A year on, my right hand is better, but not anywhere close to the extent of improvement my left hand has had. My fingers ache, particularly my index finger, middle finger and thumb, my wrist feels tired and sore at the end of the day, I can't carry heavy objects, and it does still impact how I live my daily life. Because of my right hand driving long distances isn't possible for example. While it is substantially better than before my operation, it is not what I had hoped.

Unfortunately. I firmly believe had I been offered the operation sooner, as I was with my left hand, the results would have been drastically better. My left hand had not progressed to the stage my right had, and the difference in the outcome of the operation is obvious to me. If my right hand had been operated on 6 months before, I believe it would be in a similar position to my left now. Sadly due to NHS funding cuts and NICE guidelines attempting to push away from the operation, I have been left with a hand that had potential, but now will never be 'normal' again. Since my operations the NHS has suffered further cuts and it seems that the aim is to not perform carpal tunnel operations at all. I think this is a huge loss, because I know without the drastic improvement in my left hand, and the improvement in my right, my life would have been very dramatically affected. I'm a little unusual as I am ambidextrous, I write left handed but switch back and for between my hands for everything else when possible. This has helped me a lot with the healing process as I have been able to rest up the sore hand and do things with the other hand when needed.

I worry about how my right hand will further progress in the future, it is manageable now but I fear it will get progressively worse. I suppose I can only see how it goes! Overall, I am tremendously happy to have had these operations, my left hand is fantastic now, and I have gained back the ability to do so many things that carpal tunnel had taken away from me before.

If you have any other questions, do let me know! Happy to answer away,

Much love,
Kitty xxxx