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Carpal Tunnel Release

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a “tunnel” in the wrist that houses nine tendons of muscles, which flex the hand, and the median nerve. In the hand, the median nerve is responsible for sensation of the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. It is also responsible for some motor function of the thumb, index, and middle fingers. The floor of the tunnel is the carpal (wrist) bones and the roof is the flexor retinaculum (a band of connective tissue).


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by increased pressure in the carpal tunnel and subsequent compression of the median nerve. The most common complaints are pain, numbness, and tingling, especially of the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Symptoms are usually worse at night; people often find themselves waking up from sleep and having to “shake out” their hands to alleviate symptoms. Many people also have difficulty manipulating small objects or have weakness in those same fingers. Untreated, long standing carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to wasting of the muscles in the thumb. In addition, many pregnant women develop carpal tunnel syndrome as their pregnancy progresses, but symptoms usually resolve after the baby is born with no surgical intervention.


The procedure to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a Carpal Tunnel Release. This involves a small, vertical incision where the base of the palm meets the wrist and cutting the band of tissue causing compression on the nerve.  Surgery typically lasts about 15 minutes. This is performed as an outpatient surgery, meaning you will be able to go home that day.

Things to know:​

  • You will be discharged with an Ace wrap. Following discharge please ensure that the surgical site is kept clean and dry for 48 hours.
  • After 48 hours you may remove the bandage and shower. While showering, you may use soap and water, but be sure to pat the incision dry. It is important that you do not submerge your surgical incision in water (i.e. no bath tubs, swimming pools, washing dishes, etc.). After patting dry, you can place a band-aid over incision line.
  • You should immediately start to bend (open and close) and use the affected hand after surgery.
  • It is important to elevate your arm on a couple of pillows to alleviate pain and swelling.
  • You will follow up in our office 10-14 days after surgery, for suture removal.
  • Typically follow up appointments are scheduled in two-week intervals following surgery, so we can monitor your recovery.

Postoperative restrictions are as follows:

You should immediately start to use the affected hand after surgery, as much as tolerated, however you should not apply direct pressure to your palm or lift > 5lbs for 4 weeks.