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Anyone here had Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery? If so what was your experience
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By Malcolm M
Jan 19, 2012

I was just diagnosed (officially, with the nerve conduction test and all that) with carpal tunnel syndrome. It's mostly related to work, not climbing, but I'm hoping that those of you who've had the surgery can tell me what your experience was like.

My main concerns are:

1) How long until I can climb again?
2) Will I lose my grip strength if I have the surgery?

My doc does stitchless endoscopic surgery, which has a significantly faster recovery time, but again, I'd just really like to hear from other climbers who have had the surgery, especially with regard to how long it took them to get back to their pre-surgery climbing strength.

I've started training very systematically for climbing the past year and have been seeing rapid gains. I would hate to have the surgery put me out of the game for six months or somehow permanently reduce my grip strength (I don't know if this is a risk, but again, that's why I'm asking for first-hand accounts).

Climbing helps keep me sane and happy. Just nervous about what the surgical effects might be. On the other hand, pain sucks and if the surgery is effective it would be amazing to not have to deal with the pain anymore so.... yeah... pros and cons and all that.

Thanks!


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By md3
Jan 19, 2012

I had to have both hands done to avoid permanent nerve damage. I had endoscopic release with out any stitches and lost most of my hand strength, but you can get it back and in some cases even more once things are opened up in there. I expect real recovery time varies depending on age and training habits among other factors. It took me a couple of years to get back to where I was, but I think that my training program was poor for a while.
Do you also have Reynaulds? If so, and maybe even if you don't, its worth while to go to a real endocrinologist and have a complete work up of your hormone levels. (Some docs won't know what you are talking about, but there is evidence showing a relationship between autoimmune problems and out of whack hormone levels, especially in men.)
I wouldn't rush into the surgery unless you are already suffering from constant numbness in your thumb which is spreading to your forefinger and occasionally all the way to the mid-line on your ring finger. Its a difficult call. Some people are more at risk from suffering serious nerve damage more quickly than others, depending on the overall health of their nervous and circulatory systems.
If I had it to do over and I had taken action sooner, I might have tried aggressive hormone treatment before getting the surgery done.
I wouldn't be so sure that carpal issues are related to your work.
This might seem random, but have you had a lot of dental work done in the past 3 years?
Pain that wakes you up at night can be relieved somewhat with wrist braces.


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By Brian in SLC
Jan 19, 2012
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch

Bump...

md3 wrote:
This might seem random, but have you had a lot of dental work done in the past 3 years?


Yep, seems random.

What's the connection??


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By Bon Temps
From SoCal
Jan 19, 2012

I had it done ages ago.
This was back before endoscopy so they opened my wrist up nice and wide.
It took at least 3 months before I got brave enough to start really bearing down with my hand to see what it could do.
I had really crappy insurance and the post op PT was next to nothing. They saw me one time and set up a self therapy regimen for me to work with. I worked diligently on the self PT but it still took about 2 years to get back up to strength.
There was more going on with my hand and the doctors overlooked some nerve damage which is now permanent.
Looking back, I regret having the procedure done and wish I had looked into other options first. I'm sure the procedure I underwent would be considered Barbaric by today's standards, but I'd suggest that you look at other avenues before surgery.
I hope things work out for you.


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By Malcolm M
Jan 20, 2012

md3 wrote:
I had to have both hands done to avoid permanent nerve damage. I had endoscopic release with out any stitches and lost most of my hand strength, but you can get it back and in some cases even more once things are opened up in there. I expect real recovery time varies depending on age and training habits among other factors. It took me a couple of years to get back to where I was, but I think that my training program was poor for a while. Do you also have Reynaulds? If so, and maybe even if you don't, its worth while to go to a real endocrinologist and have a complete work up of your hormone levels. (Some docs won't know what you are talking about, but there is evidence showing a relationship between autoimmune problems and out of whack hormone levels, especially in men.) I wouldn't rush into the surgery unless you are already suffering from constant numbness in your thumb which is spreading to your forefinger and occasionally all the way to the mid-line on your ring finger. Its a difficult call. Some people are more at risk from suffering serious nerve damage more quickly than others, depending on the overall health of their nervous and circulatory systems. If I had it to do over and I had taken action sooner, I might have tried aggressive hormone treatment before getting the surgery done. I wouldn't be so sure that carpal issues are related to your work. This might seem random, but have you had a lot of dental work done in the past 3 years? Pain that wakes you up at night can be relieved somewhat with wrist braces.


md: What was your training regimen like during those two years? How many times per week were you climbing, for example? It'd be useful to get a benchmark. Two years sounds pretty discouraging to me at this point.

RE Reynaulds, do you mean this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynaud%27s_phenomenon

If so, then no, I don't have it, but...maybe it'd be worthwhile getting some bloodwork done for other stuff anyway. I'm up for anything at this point.

I do wear braces at night, and the pain isn't to the point where it's constant numbness. It actually comes and goes, week to week, etc. It's just been a cat and mouse game for over 5 years now, so part of me is just tired of it. Did you try cortisone injections before you got the surgery?

RE dental work, no, but I do grind my teeth rather severely in my sleep, which causes me jaw and (sometimes) neck problems. What's the connection w/ dental work?

Thanks!


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By Malcolm M
Jan 20, 2012

Bon Temps wrote:
I worked diligently on the self PT but it still took about 2 years to get back up to strength.


Thx for the reply BT. I'm curious, once you *were* back up to strength, do you feel like the surgery allowed you to get stronger than before, or have you ever felt like it created a "ceiling" on how far you could progress w/ your climbing?

I started a training regimen toward the end of last year that I hope is going to let me break the 5.11 barrier this year, and the 5.12 next year. Ultimately if I have to get surgery then I'll have to live with the setback, but it'd be a bummer if it somehow changed the biomechanics of my hand to the point where I'd never be able to climb 5.12 again, no matter how hard I trained, for example.

Might be an unfounded fear, but it's a fear nonetheless...

And yeah, I'll probably try cortisone injections first I guess. I'm tired of the cat and mouse over the years with the pain coming and going, but it's possible that's preferable to permanent climbing setbacks...

The bummer is that with regard to computer use, the modern surgeries are supposed to be a godsend: super high success rate, satisfied patients, etc. But I also climb...


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By Bon Temps
From SoCal
Jan 20, 2012

Malcolm M wrote:
...do you feel like the surgery allowed you to get stronger than before, or have you ever felt like it created a "ceiling" on how far you could progress w/ your climbing?

Having the surgery got rid of the numbness and pain. When that barrier was removed I was able to move forward, eventually surpassing my pre-op strength.
It was a slow lengthy process partially due to the invasive nature of the procedure, but also because I was reluctant to push the workouts in fear of overdoing it and harming my hand again.
I'm still fighting those psychological demons and I'm protective of my hands and what I put them through.
A positive side effect of being extra cautious is that it steers me towards concentrating on good technique rather than pushing through with brute strength.


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By Eric Carlos
From Boulder, CO
Feb 5, 2012
Always wear a helmet.  I had it with me but chose not to wear it.  A fist sized rock fell about 35-40 ft and hit me right on top of the head

My brother had the surgery a few years ago, and pre surgery, his max redpoint was 11c, he was out for a while, but came back much stronger, and has done 12c.


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By prod.
From Boulder, Co
Feb 21, 2012

I had it done, in my right wrist, a few years ago, shortly after my first trip up El Cap.

Here is what I recall.

- It was a wicked fast opperation.
- 85% of the numbness and tingling was gone right after the opperation.
- The other 15% was gone in about a month.
- Back climbing, light duty in 1 month.
- Full strength in less than 1 year.

Fill the pain pill perscription. Right after the opperation I didn't feel a thing, that night it hurt bad, felt like my wrist was on fire.

Prod.


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By bohran
Feb 21, 2012

I'm no doctor but my father had problems and was about to have the surgery when a friend of mine (a drummer, very hard on the wrist) told me that instead of surgery he took high doses of b vitamins, it worked for him and my father. I would look into it before going under the knife.


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