• Adverse reaction or problems related to sedation or medications, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
  • Bleeding
  • Delayed return to work
  • Infection
  • Loss of wrist strength
  • Nerve damage
  • Stiffness or pain of the incision scar

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and: 

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before your surgery and during recovery. This includes following up with physical therapy and occupational therapy as recommended. 
  • Informing your doctor if you are nursing or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, or increase in pain
  • Taking your medications exactly as directed 
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies 

How do I prepare for my carpal tunnel release?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before your procedure can improve your comfort and outcome.

You can prepare for carpal tunnel release by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history and medications you take. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Arranging for a ride home
  • Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing will vary depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Preoperative testing may include a chest X-ray, EKG (electrocardiogram), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
  • Not eating or drinking before surgery as directed. Your surgery may be cancelled if you eat or drink too close to the start of surgery because you can choke on stomach contents during anesthesia.
  • Stopping smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and help the healing process.
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners.

Questions to ask your doctor

Having a carpal tunnel release can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during the doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before surgery and between appointments. 

It is a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointments. Common questions include:

  • Why do I need carpal tunnel release? Are there any other options for treating my condition?
  • How long will the procedure take? When can I go home?
  • What restrictions will I have after the procedure? When can I return to work and other activities?
  • What kind of assistance will I need at home? Will I need a ride home?
  • How should I take my medications? 
  • How will you manage my pain?
  • What type of physical therapy and occupational therapy might I need?
  • When should I follow-up with you?
  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my carpal tunnel release?

Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after carpal tunnel release as smooth as possible. 

How long will it take to recover?

You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are fully alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. You will probably go home on the same day.

You may have a sore throat if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. This is usually temporary, but tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.

Recovery after surgery is a gradual process.  Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, type of anesthesia, your general health, age, and other factors. You may need to wear a wrist brace for several weeks. Follow your physical therapy and occupational therapy exercises for optimal recovery. Full recovery takes several months.  

Will I feel pain?

Pain control is important for healing and a smooth recovery. Patients often feel immediate relief of severe pain after their surgery, but still feel soreness in the palm for several months. You may have some swelling and stiffness after surgery, which should gradually decrease. You may also have decreased grip and pinch strength for a couple of months.