Information Regarding Carpal Tunnel Release
- You are scheduled for Carpal Tunnel Release. The procedure is performed to relieve pressure on one of the major nerves to the hand, the median nerve. The nerve may be compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel which is formed by the bones of the wrist and the transverse carpal ligament. By transecting the transverse carpal ligament, pressure on the nerve is relieved.The procedure may be performed in a number of different ways. Some surgeons prefer the open technique while others prefer the endoscopic technique. Results are good with both techniques. The surgeons at POA prefer the open technique because it allows direct visualization of the median nerve and therefore avoids complications. An incision 1 to 1.5 inches in length is made over the carpal tunnel in the palm of your hand. The procedure can usually be done with a local anesthetic injected at the incision site and an agent provided by mask to make you drowsy during surgery.
- Before surgery, you will need to obtain clearance from your regular doctor if you have medical problems. You may be required to obtain some basic tests for screening before the surgery. Basic blood tests, a chest x-ray, and an EKG may be required depending on your health.
- Most people are quite satisfied with the relief provided by the procedure. In some cases, if you have had symptoms for many years, it may take several months before you notice significant improvement. Recovery of sensation and muscle strength may be incomplete in severe cases. There are always risks with any surgery. The most common complications after carpal tunnel release include persistent pain around the surgical area (pillar pain), wrist or finger stiffness, and wound infection.
- After surgery, you will be discharged home in a wrist splint and a bulky dressing. The dressing may be removed 3 to 4 days after surgery, but you should continue wearing the splint provided for approximately 6 weeks. You will see your surgeon or PA 10 to 14 days after surgery in the office where the stitches will be removed. Your surgeon may refer you to see a Hand Therapist for supervised therapy postoperatively or you will be provided with a set of exercises you can do at home on your own.
- Your return to work depends on your profession and the availability of light duty. Generally, light office work, typing, writing, and using a computer are acceptable even 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. No heavy lifting or forceful gripping with the operative hand is permitted until at least 6 weeks after surgery.
- Call your surgeon if you have an elevated temperature greater than 101.5 degrees, redness, or drainage from the incision site as this may be indicative of a wound infection.
- If you are running low on pain medication after surgery and anticipate the need for more, please call your doctor’s office during regular office hours (8am to 5pm Monday – Friday).
- For more information about carpal tunnel syndrome and its treatment, click here.