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Carpal Tunnel Surgery


Carpal tunnel surgery, or decompression, is used to take pressure off the median nerve in your wrist. The median nerve controls muscles and feeling in the hand. Surgery may be done through an opening on your palm. This is called open surgery. Your surgeon may instead put a scope and tools into 1 or 2 small incisions on your wrist or palm. This is called endoscopic surgery.


Seek care immediately if:

  • Your stitches come apart.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You cannot feel or move your hand or fingers.
  • You feel a lump or swelling in your wrist.

Contact your healthcare provider or hand specialist if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You feel weak or achy.
  • You have pain, even after you take medicine.
  • You have swelling, stiffness, or numbness in your fingers.
  • Your finger becomes stuck in the same position.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help prevent or fight a bacterial infection.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Go to physical or occupational therapy, if directed:

A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength. Physical therapy can also help decrease pain and loss of function. An occupational therapist can help you find ways to do work and other activities to reduce strain on your wrist.

Apply ice to your wrist:

Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the ice pack or bag with a towel. Place it on your wrist for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.

Limit activity as directed:

Do not pull, lift, or move heavy objects until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Ask when you can return to work. Take time to rest your hand. If you work on a computer, rest your hand often. You may need to elevate your arm several times a day. This helps decrease pain and swelling.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or hand specialist as directed:

You may need to return to have your stitches removed. Ask how long you need to wear your splint. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Carpal Tunnel Surgery (Discharge Care)

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