A lot of you have asked, and I’m here to spill. I had surgery almost two months ago to correct my carpal/cubital tunnel syndrome. Here’s the progress on my recovery, and if I think the surgery is worth it!
First off, what the heck is carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome?
These are two separate disorders, both affecting the nerves in your hand and arm. Carpal tunnel was a nerve that was being compressed in my wrist, and the cubital tunnel was a nerve that was being compressed in my elbow. I was diagnosed with both of these disorders at the age of 17 by my neurologist, but my symptoms got really bad in 2014 and kept getting worse. Hence why my doctor recommended surgery.
What was surgery like?
It was an outpatient procedure, and I was in a cast and pretty much on bed rest for almost 2 weeks afterwards. I was in a considerable amount of pain afterwards, so I really couldn’t be super productive during those few weeks after surgery. You’ll definitely need someone to take care of you when you’re in the cast, and a little assistance after you get the cast off because your hand won’t be back to normal!
One thing I didn’t expect…
Nerves take a really, really long time to regenerate. After I got my cast off, my arm just fell to my side and I couldn’t even make the motion with my hand to pick up a piece of paper. I joked and called it my “decorative arm,” because it was essentially useless.
You have to keep using your arm as much as possible during the recovery stages. Physical therapy was optional, but I decided to do it to get the range of motion and strength back in my arm as much as possible.
How are you now?
I’m doing pretty ok! It’s a fine balance of using your arm to get strength back and making sure you don’t over-use your arm and irritate it. A week ago, my elbow was swelling up really bad after the weekend and my PT told me to just take it easy for a few days. As badly as I want to get back to normal, I know that I still have a few more months until I make a complete recovery.
I’m able to lift water bottles and light shopping bags almost 2 months post-op, and I’ve gotten complete range of motion in my elbow and about 90% range of motion in my wrist back, which is pretty good in my book! I’m still not able to do heavy lifting or do a lot of arm exercises in the gym, but hopefully I’ll be able to do that in a couple of months.
Was surgery worth it?
In my opinion, yes. While I don’t have full strength back in my arm yet, I have noticed that the numbness/tingling I was experiencing in my hand/forearm before the surgery is completely gone.
If you think you have carpal/cubital tunnel…
Go see a doctor! We’re in the age of Web MD and are prone to self-diagnose, but really, I can’t diagnose you. You need to go see a doctor if you think you do. There are a lot of preventative steps you can take to avoid having surgery that your doctor can recommend if you do have it.
Photos by Jen Eun