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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.

Our Response to COVID-19

At Alan Chen Surgical Associates we are trying our very best to keep all our patients and staff members safe and healthy during these uncertain times. While we remain open to care for our post-surgical and emergent patients we are going to place limits and guidelines on those entering our office. Based on CDC guidelines, and recommendations, here are our current changes:

  1. We are only going to be open on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

  2. Only the patient being seen by one of our providers will be allowed in the clinic. We ask all family members to remain home or in their vehicle if they do accompany the patient to our office. If the patient is a minor, only one parent will be allowed to come into the clinic with the child.

  3. When you arrive to our office, please stay in your vehicle. Call our office at 815-729-9527 to alert the office staff you have arrived. We will call you once the provider is ready to see you for your appointment. Again, only the patient will then come into the office. All other persons remain in your vehicle.

  4. Prior to being seen in our office we have put a screening process in place. If you do not pass the screening process, you will be asked to reschedule your appointment. If you have any cold/flu symptoms, have recently traveled, or have a known exposure we ask that you please inform us and reschedule your appointment. If necessary, one of our providers would be happy to discuss any concerns you have over the phone!

Thank you for understanding our new policies. We are trying to limit the number of patients in our office at one time. This is to keep our patients, staff, and community safe and healthy during these times. Please help us try to flatten the curve.

Our Response to COVID-19