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Open Carpal Tunnel Decompression


Open carpal tunnel decompression is surgery to take pressure off of the median nerve in your wrist. This is done through an incision on your palm that may extend to your wrist.


Before your surgery:

  • Ask someone to drive you home when you are ready to leave the hospital. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.

The night before your surgery:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • Your hand will be placed on a table, cleaned, and covered with a sheet. Your caregiver will give you anesthesia medicine to help relax you and decrease the pain during your surgery. A cuff called a tourniquet may be put around your upper arm to decrease bleeding during your surgery. Your caregiver may do a regular open carpal tunnel surgery or a limited open carpal tunnel surgery. During regular open carpal tunnel surgery, your caregiver will make an incision on the palm of your hand. This incision may extend to your wrist. If your caregiver does limited open carpal tunnel surgery, then he will only make incisions on your palm.
  • The carpal ligament will be cut to release the pressure on the nerve. The carpal ligament is a band of tissue that connects joints in your wrist. Your caregiver may also remove scar tissue or anything else that may be pressing on the nerve. The incision will be closed with stitches and covered with bandages. Your caregiver will then take off the tourniquet.

After your surgery:

Your caregiver may put a splint on your wrist to keep it from moving. You will be taken to a room where you will rest until you are fully awake. Your caregiver may ask you to move your fingers soon after your surgery. Do not try to get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay.


  • You cannot make it to your surgery.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You have a fever.
  • The pain in your hand becomes worse.
  • You have an infection or swelling in your hand or wrist.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You cannot feel or move your wrist or hand.
  • Your symptoms suddenly get worse.
  • You feel a lump on your wrist.


  • You may get an infection. Your skin may bruise. A thick, painful scar may form where you had surgery. You may get a trigger finger where your fingers are locked in a bent position. Surgery may cause long-term numbness or weakness in your fingers, hand, or wrist. Your symptoms may not go away, and you may need surgery again.
  • Without surgery, the symptoms of your CTS may get worse. You may not be able to work or do things you normally do. The muscles in your hand controlled by the compressed nerve may become smaller. You may not be able to feel or move your wrist.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

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