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Carpal Tunnel Release

Carpal Tunnel Release: Overview, Preparation, Procedure, Recovery, Risks, and Aftercare


A carpal tunnel release is a surgical procedure used to relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the wrist and hand. In order to reduce pressure on the median nerve, which passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, the transverse carpal ligament is cut.


In preparation for carpal tunnel release surgery, the following steps are typically taken:

  • In addition to blood tests and imaging studies, patients undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation to assess their overall health and suitability for surgery.

  • The patient meets with the surgeon to discuss the procedure, review potential risks and benefits, and address any concerns or questions they may have.

  • Prior to surgery, patients may be instructed to fast for a certain period of time, usually starting at midnight.


Carpal tunnel release surgery involves:

  • In most cases, local anesthesia, which numbs the hand and wrist, or regional anesthesia, which numbs the entire arm, is administered.

  • An incision is made in the palm of the hand or the wrist to access the transverse carpal ligament.

  • By releasing the transverse carpal ligament, the surgeon widens the carpal tunnel and reduces compression on the median nerve.

  • Stitches or surgical tape are used to close the incision, and a dressing may be applied to protect it.


Following carpal tunnel release surgery:

  • It is common for patients to experience some pain, swelling, or stiffness in their hands and wrists following surgery. Elevating the hand, applying ice packs, and taking prescribed pain medications can help manage discomfort.

  • The majority of patients are able to resume light activities within a few days to a week after surgery. However, heavy lifting, repetitive motions, and strenuous activities may need to be avoided for a few weeks.

  • The hand and wrist may benefit from physical therapy or hand exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion.


There are a number of potential risks and complications associated with carpal tunnel release surgery, including:

  • There is a risk of infection at the surgical site, which may require antibiotics or additional medical care.

  • Numbness, weakness, or other neurological symptoms may result from damage to nearby nerves or blood vessels during surgery.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms may persist or recur despite surgical treatment in some cases.


Patients may be advised to do the following after carpal tunnel release surgery:

  • In order to prevent infection, patients should follow instructions for wound care. This may include keeping the incision site clean and dry, avoiding submerging the hand in water, and changing dressings as needed.

  • Patients should attend follow-up appointments with their surgeon to monitor healing progress, assess outcomes, and address any concerns.

  • As tolerated, patients should gradually increase activity levels with the guidance of their surgeon or physical therapist.

In general, carpal tunnel release surgery is safe and effective for relieving symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and improving hand function. Patients will be able to resume normal activities with improved quality of life with significant relief from pain and discomfort with proper preparation, surgical technique, and postoperative care.

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