Does carpal tunnel surgery require being put to sleep?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

Carpal tunnel release surgery, which is used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, can be performed under either general anesthesia or local anesthesia. The choice of anesthesia depends on various factors, including the patient’s preferences, the surgeon’s recommendation, and the specific circumstances of the surgery.

1. General Anesthesia:
Under general anesthesia, the patient is completely asleep and unaware during the procedure. This type of anesthesia is commonly used for more complex surgeries or when the patient has additional medical conditions that need to be managed during the procedure. General anesthesia allows the surgeon to have full control over the patient’s comfort and movements, ensuring a safe and efficient surgery.

2. Local Anesthesia:
Local anesthesia involves numbing only the specific area being operated on, in this case, the wrist and hand. It is commonly used for carpal tunnel release surgery due to its effectiveness and simplicity. The anesthetic medication is injected near the median nerve, which is responsible for the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. This numbs the area and blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain, allowing the surgeon to perform the surgery while the patient remains awake.

During the surgery, the patient may also receive a sedative to help them relax and reduce any anxiety or discomfort. This can be administered either orally or intravenously, depending on the preference of the patient and the surgeon.

From personal experience, I had carpal tunnel surgery under local anesthesia. I was given a sedative to help me relax, and my hand and wrist were numbed with a local anesthetic injection. I was fully awake throughout the procedure, but I didn’t feel any pain. The surgeon explained each step of the surgery to me, and I was able to ask questions and communicate with the surgical team.

Carpal tunnel release surgery can be performed with either general anesthesia or local anesthesia, depending on the specific circumstances and the patient’s preferences. Both options have their advantages and risks, and it is important to discuss the anesthesia choice in detail with the surgeon before the procedure.