That is a boring title, but over the past 2 weeks I’ve Googled that exact phrase several times and found nothing helpful, so I thought I’d add to the paltry search results in case someone else is someday looking for the same thing (also, just to be upfront about the topic since about 90*% of the general population will never have to worry about it and therefore may find this incredibly boring).
*estimates vary; I just picked one
In short: I am amazed at how great my hand is feeling. I am a little less than 2 weeks out from my carpal tunnel release surgery, and with the exception of a one-inch incision in my palm, a Band-Aid and a lingering ache in my hand, you’d never know it! (unless you looked at my Netflix history…) The surgery itself was really quick – I checked in at the hospital at 5:45 for a 7 am surgery, and was home in bed by 10:00.
For three days following surgery, my hand was wrapped up like a boxer – lots of gauze and bandaging that was so bulky I could not wear long sleeves. There was swelling and some pain but my doctor’s instructions, in addition to keeping it elevated and iced whenever possible, were to “move to tolerance,” (AKA “do whatever you want with your hand until it hurts too much”). That is precisely what I did, and it became much easier once I removed the dressing and downgraded to a Band-Aid instead of 6 feet of gauze. I also learned that every kind of movement affected my blood flow and therefore my hand, even if I weren’t using it (i.e., walking).
It seems, from the minimal results of my research, that there are two schools of thought regarding recovery from CT surgery. I am sure this varies based upon a person’s individual circumstances, work activities, and medical history. I talked to people in person, and read accounts online, of folks being home from work for 4 weeks or more, some with total rest prescribed for their hand. On the other hand (ha!), others of us are instructed to move the affected hand as much as and as soon as possible. I have to say this approach really worked for me. I was doubtful when my doctor told me I’d be driving 4-5 days after surgery, but he was right! (though shifting from “park” to “drive” was challenging in the early days…)
The fascinating thing is how much improvement I would make on a day-to-day basis. I had all these exciting right-hand milestones, like “brushing my hair!” “opening an envelope!” “using scissors!” and “writing!” The day following surgery I wrote a grocery list left-handed, but within days I was able to fill out my return-to-work forms with my right. With driving, on Wednesday I was not able to comfortably turn the key in the ignition or make the shift from park with my right hand, but by Friday I was out running errands like every other two-handed person in the world.
Now that I am back to work with no more sutures and “no restrictions,” I am realizing how tired the muscles in my hand can get. It definitely made sense to stay home for a week though I was initially skeptical about really needing that much time off. Although my job primarily involves sitting in an office talking to people, I sorely underestimated the amount of typing and writing that I do (as well as the amount I assumed I was “practicing” these activities while off work). On my first day back, by 5pm I could hardly grip a pen. But like every other hand-related activity, I am seeing big improvements each day. Plus, I will soon only need my hand for vacationing when Spring Break arrives, so the timing is nice.
My next assignment from the doctor is to get some Play-Dough so I can work on my strength. My next assignment for myself is to be able to do yoga! I can handle some running and walking and gentle stretching, but weight-bearing on the incision in my hand, even with a padded brace, is still very uncomfortable. I’ve almost gone to a few yoga classes, but the thought of Downward Dog stops me every time! My body misses the stretch very much, so I am hoping to attend a restorative class this week for some movement without the flow and inversions.
Also — and perhaps most important — no carpal tunnel symptoms whatsoever! All in all, I’m glad I did this, and I am happy it happened at a time of year when the weather was so insufferable that I did not mind being housebound for several days. Now if I can just get my Downward Dog back, I’ll know I am really recovered!