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Thread: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a Paraplegic having the surgery!

  1. #1

    Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a Paraplegic having the surgery!

    Okay... I tried to find a RECENT thread on this subject but found none.

    I have had the nerve conduction studies to confirm I have Bi-Lateral Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. My hands go to sleep, forearms ache and I lose strength in my hands. Of course it is worst at night but here is the big rub for me. I can barely play my guitar which is a BIG part of my life. I have been leading worship in a praise band at my church for 13+ years and don't really want to stop as well as gigging/recording with area groups and friends. Guitar and music are a big part of my life.

    1 - I am a wheelchair dependent L1 paraplegic complete with good upper body and arm strength.
    2 - I am 4 1/2 years post injury
    3 - I have been in a manual wheelchair since injury
    4 - I am a photographer by trade but also a singer/songwriting guitar player
    5 - I am single and live mostly alone. (16 year old son here every other week.) Do all my own transfers plus bowel program etc.
    6 - I wear forearm braces every night and alot during the day. They help but not as much as they used to.
    7 - I am VERY active and transfer alot during the day. Chair to Car and back usually 8 to 10 times a day - Chair to Bed - Chair to Potty Chair - Chair to EZ Chair - Depressions for skin relief.
    8 - I have had a steroid injection with not much positive result.
    9 - I had Carpal Tunnel issues before SCI.

    With all that said I have researched Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery both OPEN SURGERY and ENDOSCOPIC SURGERY. It would appear that the endoscopic surgery would be a better choice for me so I would not have to deal with the larger incision right where I grab the wheels to push and do transfers. I was hoping somebody here may have had some experience with this procedure to share with me or an SCI nurse might chime in. Here are a few questions that come to mind.

    1 - If you are someone that has had the procedure, did it help and did it last?
    2 - Does cutting the Transverse Ligament affect hand use or strength? (Would it mess up my guitar playing?)
    3 - Since I will continue to have to do transfers and push my wheelchair will this surgery still be beneficial to me? It seems like cutting that ligament might actually make it easier to irritate the nerve when I press down on my wheel to do a transfer.
    4 - Am I correct in thinking the "Endoscopic" procedure would be better than the "Open" type?
    5 - Should I do one hand at a time or both at the same time?
    6 - If you are someone sharing an experience with this, did you have to go somewhere to be cared for after the surgery to get help with transfers, bowel program , etc. or were you able to take care of your own needs?

    Surely I am not the only one dealing with this here on this forum.

    So let me whine a minute.... I am certainly grateful for every bit of ability I have. I must admit however this is frustrating because I figured if I had to be paralized the rest of my life I could at least just sit around with friends and play tunes on the guitar. Come on BODY....... quit giving upon me!!!!! (OKAY I'M THROUGH WHINING!!!)

    I look forward to hearing from somebody on this.

    L1 Complete - Injury 3/12/06 - Grateful to be alive!!!!

  2. #2
    i had outpatient carpal surgery a fews years back i dont think it helped had to keep it dry for a wile but just rapped it and could basicaly do whateveri needed to do
    to alcohol the cause of-and solution to-all of lifes problems [homer simpson]

  3. #3
    I have little experience with these praocedures so lets see what others say with personal experience. I will also look up a few things as well.


  4. #4
    I've had bouts of CTS as well over the 27 years I've been injured (T4 complete), confirmed electromyographically. My symptoms were isolated to transient numbness, no pain. I responded very successfully to cortisone injections; two treatments about 15 years apart. Have you investigated getting injections?

    Even more conservatively, I would suggest that you investigate the Flextend glove.

    It may turn out in time that you require surgery, but I would strongly encourage you to explore all non-surgical options first.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    I had open surgery back in the 80's on both hands but not in the same year. From what I understand the surgery they have for carpal tunnel now is much easier guess it is the endosopic. It is really kinda hard for me to recall how bad it was but I do remember I got creative with transfering to the chair from the bed but don't think I transfered in and out of the car. I still managed my bowel and bladder. I was married so had my husband to help me with things but mostly I continued to do things on my own just at a slower pace.

    Since it has been such a long time since I had the surgery I almost didn't respond but did because I wanted to comment on some your concerns.

    The procedure did help me, I lost no strength in my hands, and it did last. If it was me I wouldn't have both done at the same time unless I did have someone to help me during recovery. I really don't see how you could do things if you have both hands operated on at the same time.

    Good luck.
    A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. ~Winston Churchill

  6. #6
    Thanks to those that have responded so far. Hopefully some others will chime in.

    Stephen212... I have tried the steroid injections about 2 months ago and I did not notice much if any positive result. I have been dealing with this on and off for the last couple of years now. (It is mostly on now.) Before the injections I did physical therapy twice. I have tried massage and accupuncture. I actually had bouts with it before my SCI injury that I was able to manage with PT. I consulted a surgeon way back then and he said, "You will know when the time is right to have the surgery done when you can't stand it anymore!" Believe me I do not want to be cut on ANYMORE but I have got to address it somehow before it starts causing permanent nerve damage and muscle loss.

    Thanks ya'll.....
    L1 Complete - Injury 3/12/06 - Grateful to be alive!!!!

  7. #7


    I was first diagnosed with bilateral CTS 25 years ago. I went for a pre-surgical consult and the doc said, I think you can put this off for a while. However, two years ago, it was time to pay the piper. The first hand surgeon wanted to do the old-fashioned surgery through the palms, stating that I would have to spend 6 weeks in a nursing home after each surgery, and I could not participate in any self-care, transfers, bowel program, etc. I'm T11 incomplete, but full-time w/c user.

    Fortunately, at the same time I also had problems with my shoulder, but wanted to continue in w/c sports. I went to a sports medicine doc at Rothman Inst. who suggested I get a consult with their hand surgeon.

    Long story short; he did micro-surgery on each hand. The first took 13 minutes, the second 20 minutes. I was given general anesthesia, so I had to have someone drive me. However, I transferred to my w/c from the operating table and then from my w/c to the van (no lift). For about a week toilet transfers were difficult, because the transfer to a hard surface was painful. Within a week the pain was greatly diminished, and within 3 weeks I was back to normal (after each surgery which was two weeks apart). Six weeks after the second surgery I returned to playing BB and the scars on my wrists are barely visible. No problems after two years.

    Micro-surgery requires special training, so I'm unsure how you can find a doc who does it. IMO, it's the only way to go. Rothman Inst. is in the NE, so you will need to find someone in your area who can do it. It is same day surgery, and I was in and out in less than 3 hours.

  8. #8
    once you're cut you're cut and no going back. Try anything before surgery. I did a few cortizone injections and also massage and accupuncture. I still do the massage , chiro and accupuncture. Helped a lot.

    You will completley incapacitated after surgery and the rehab will take many months before you can use it fully. Even then, there is no guarantee that it will be successful. I don't know anyone who has had the surgery where lasted more than 3 years and they were worse off than before.

    As tasty says, it all depends on who your surgeon is.

  9. #9
    I had open surgery last year on my right hand. Transfering recovery about 2 1/2 weeks. I made a fist and pushed down on my knuckles instead of on my hand.
    I think I wasted my time. I have some nerve damage in the arm down to the hand from the injury. Its a rooll of the dice.
    Good luck

  10. #10
    Senior Member fishin'guy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Seattle area Wash state
    I had car tun surgery yrs before sci, and a ulnar release on the same hand, both were great and did all I was expecting, (had the brace so I could fish with it. Had steroid inj in the other hand once while sci'd and they worked too.

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