What is nerve hydrodissection?

Nerve hydrodissection sounds like a big procedure, but it's not. This minimally invasive treatment option frees up compressed nerves. Doctors often use it to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common nerve compression condition. It affects your wrist and arm. Pressure on the median nerve, which runs through your entire arm, causes the condition. That nerve compression happens from repetitive stress during activities like typing. Other risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms of include numbness, weakness and tingling in your hands. Untreated, the condition worsens. You can lose the strength of your grip. Pain and muscle cramping increase. You might also end up having numbness in your fingers. Your thumb might not be able to pinch things. Nerve hydrodissection offers patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome a non-surgical treatment option. 

What to expect from nerve hydrodissection of the hand or wrist

When you go for this outpatient procedure, your doctor starts by using an ultrasound machine. This helps them see inside your body to find the spot where your nerve is compressed. This also lets them visualize the area to find the best place to perform the treatment. Once they've located it, they clean your skin and treat it with medicine to numb it. Your doctor injects you with a solution of saline and numbing medicine. 

The liquid forms a cushion. This gradually frees the nerve from whatever is putting pressure on it. Your doctor might add cortisone to the solution also to help shrink scar tissue and calm inflammation. In most cases, you can go back to your normal activities in two days or so. Also, you might feel some relief right away. It could take up to several weeks to feel better.

Common conditions requiring nerve hydrodissection

Carpal tunnel is one of the most common conditions doctors treat with this procedure. It can also be helpful in treating other types of nerve compression throughout the body. Examples include: 

  • Cubital tunnel syndrome, which affects the ulnar nerve in the elbow
  • Suprascapular nerve compression syndrome, which affects the suprascapular nerve in the shoulder
  • Radial nerve compression syndrome, which affects the radial nerve in the arm and can cause symptoms in the wrist or hand

Find an orthopedic physician nearby

Mercy Health locations that can treat you