The median nerve is one of the most prominent nerves in the forearm, wrist, and hand. If that nerve is compressed, it causes a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome where pain, tingling, and numbness limit hand strength and grip.
What causes the nerve to compress? Repetitive motions for hours each day can trigger it. Jobs like data entry, typing, etc. can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A bone fracture and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis are other causes. As time passes, the condition can become so severe that it requires surgery to allow the nerve to release the pressure on the nerve.
Your mom’s been told that since other treatments aren’t helping, she needs surgery. What should she expect during the recovery?
Which Surgery Did She Have?
When possible, push for endoscopic surgery. The incisions are much smaller and will heal faster. Your mom should still expect her recovery to take several days for the skin to heal fully and several months for the ligament to heal.
If she goes with open surgery, the recovery may take longer as an open incision is made in the wrist to provide access to the carpal tunnel. As the incision is larger, it will take more healing time. Her surgeon will advise her on the pros and cons of each.
Once the surgery is over and your mom goes home, she needs to gently exercise her wrist. Working with an occupational therapist ensures she doesn’t over-exert her wrist and hand while trying to rebuild skills like gripping items, getting dressed, and preparing meals and snacks.
She’ll Need Help With Daily Routines
For several weeks, your mom will have limited use of the affected hand. If she’s right-handed and that’s the hand that underwent surgery, it can make it hard to complete daily chores.
Make sure your mom has a family member, friend, or home care aide to help with laundry, cleaning, and pet care. Your mom needs someone to help her get dressed, prepare meals, and complete grooming and hygiene routines.
Pain Management Techniques
Your mom may find her wrist painful for several days. The incision may feel tight and sore. She needs to keep bandages over it until her surgeon says she can remove them. The use of over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen will help manage the pain.
Occupational therapy may be used as an alternative to surgery or to help with her recovery. Learning how to loosen her grip and find other ways to complete tasks using splints or other devices may help. If it doesn’t, her occupational therapist can help her regain hand strength as she recovers from surgery.
Learn more about occupational therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome. Start by asking her doctor for information about your mom’s treatment plan and what can be done to avoid the need for surgery. From there, make the necessary arrangements to support her.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring occupational therapy in Ardmore, PA, and the surrounding area, please contact the friendly staff at Suma Home Care. (484) 206-4544
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