Two Hands with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome--One Operation
Are you troubled by carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)? Are you thinking about having surgery to relieve the pain, numbness, and tingling? If you have CTS in both hands, should you have both wrists done at one time? Will you be able to manage simple things like dressing or using the bathroom? What about going back to work?

These are the kinds of questions doctors from the University of Utah asked 20 patients with CTS who had open surgery done on both wrists during the same operation.

Surprisingly, using the bathroom was considered one of the easier tasks. Opening jars was the most difficult. Driving, writing, dressing, and eating were hard. Holding a book, shopping, talking on the phone, and using a computer were easier tasks. Even so, 100 percent of the patients said they would do it the same way if they had to do it over.

The reason for having both wrists done at the same time? To decrease the total time disabled and to miss less overall time at work. Most patients were back to work in three weeks. Some returned as quickly as three days. Others were out a full six weeks.

The authors recognize that gripping and lifting activities are most difficult for
patients having carpal tunnel surgery. The patients seem to manage personal hygiene and are less likely to ask for help in this area. Having both wrists operated on at the same time for CTS is not advised for patients who live alone.
Angela A. Wang, MD, et al. Bilateral Simultaneous Open Carpal Tunnel Release: A Prospective Study of Postoperative Activities of Daily Living and Patient Satisfaction. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. September 2003. Vol. 28-A. No. 5. Pp. 845-848.