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Recovering from Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Carpal tunnel surgery releases the pressure on the median nerve inside the wrist. This allows the nerve to freely travel through the narrow tunnel passage correctly without causing any discomfort. Once surgery has been completed you will be given a care plan via your doctor on how to protect your wound and gradually regain normal function of your hand/wrist.

Hand in bandage after hand surgery

After Your Surgery

After surgery, there will be a feeling of numbness in the hand which generally passes within the first week, however it is not uncommon for this persist over the course of a couple of months. Over the counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen are available should the pain or discomfort continue. It is important to always read the instructions that come with any medication to ensure correct usage.

Bandages and Dressing

The bandages and padding can be removed after 48 hours, however the small white dressing is left on. Keeping your hand elevated after this can help to relive pain and swelling.

Splints are often worn within the dressing of the wound to provide support throughout the healing process. This, along with the small white dressing and stitches will be removed after 2 weeks by a medical professional at your follow up appointment. After this, the 2-4 week period is typically when you can gradually begin to resume normal day to day tasks with your hand. Your will be provided with a care plan in order to correctly manage the healing process.

Hand Exercises

Performing simple exercises can help to gradually build up the strength back in your hand. These should be performed in a gentle manner and only repeated up to 4-5 times during each period as your hand will still be in a fragile state. If you feel any sharp pains when performing the following exercises then stop and contact your doctor immediately.

Exercises that can aid in recovery are:

  • Moving your wrist gently forwards and backwards

  • Making a loose fist and then releasing slowly

  • Slowly stretching your fingers open back and forth

  • Putting hands in a prayer like position and raising towards your chin and back down

Avoid repeating the same movements over and over and gripping objects as this will be painful at first. Heavy lifting should be avoided entirely over the healing period. You will need to ensure the wound is kept clean and dry until completely healed.

Return to Work

Time off work will be needed whilst you recover in order to heal and reduce the use of your hand which could otherwise cause complications. Most patients will take 2 weeks off until they can return to work but this depends on the nature of your job. Any form of heavy lifting should be avoided so if there are no strenuous activities involved in your job then you should be able to return after the 2-week period should you feel comfortable doing so. A doctor’s note can be provided to confirm your time off and if you do feel as though you need more time then you can speak to your doctor to discuss this and have an assessment on your healing progress. Upon return to work it is important to still be vigilant with how your use your hand and not resume as normal straight away. Most people have the full use and strength of their hand return to them after 6-12 weeks.

When to Contact Your GP

  • Experiencing severe pain

  • If the wound area becomes red/pink

  • If discharge seeps from the wound

  • If the wound starts to bleed

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