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Open or Scope Carpal Tunnel Release

I recently completed my third surgery of the year, hopefully, the last for a while. I had carpal tunnel release on my right hand back in Feb, then the recent hip surgery and rounding things out, I did my left hand for carpal tunnel.

Back in February when I went in for my right hand, I only thought there was one option: scope. When I went for my follow-up and spoke to the doctor’s PA and told her how I was not too fond of all the medicine and the nerve block, she suggested open for my next hand.

So, this is just what I did. Open means you stay away and they use a local numbing agent to perform the surgery. I thought I would have the option to watch the surgery but I was wrong.

Here is the quick rundown of open; answer a bunch of questions from the nurses, wait for the PA to inject 2 tubes of the numbing agent, and because I am a diabetic, they hooked up a drip of an antibiotic but this wouldn’t happen for a non-diabetic. Then you walk to the room where they set you up on a bed to perform the surgery. They ask you to lay your arm out on this platform-type thing and then they hang a sheet up and over you. Then the doctor injects another numbing agent into your wrist and they do their thing for approximately 10 minutes. Done.

Here is the number 1 question I get: did you feel it? No, I did not. I could tell they were messing with my hand but I certainly didn’t feel anything sharp etc. plus they check to make sure you aren’t feeling anything. I thought it was wild how the doc told me he was done and yet the next thing I could “feel” was the sensation of stitches. Odd how our bodies just know.

I went to a room after the surgery and was told they needed me to stay for 20 minutes to make sure I wasn’t going to have a reaction and then I walked out to my car and drove off.

So, which type of surgery would I recommend you have if you are having carpal tunnel release? Hands down open is the way to go (in my opinion). It isn’t a major surgery and you don’t feel a thing. You aren’t all drugged up or groggy, and you definitely don’t have to deal with that nerve block. Essentially you have a big dead limb that is burning hot (I researched it gets hot and that indicates it is working). That was the worst part for me with the scope.

Do any of you have both styles done and have an opinion? Comments below.


I started kayaking in Wisconsin of all places, because this is where I am from. I then moved to San Diego and took on kayak surfing along with heading to the Kern River when water was available. I then made the move to Asheville, NC and have been hooked on this sport since my Wisconsin days. With whatever it is that you do, do it because you love it, not because society tells you should or for other outside factors. Don't simply exist, live!