Carpal Tunnel Release Recovery

To perform carpal tunnel release surgery, a surgeon will cut through the ligament that is putting pressure on the median nerve and tendons that run through the tunnel. He or she will either cut open the wrist to access the tunnel (open release) or make a small incision on the wrist and the palm in which to insert a tube with a camera that will guide the surgery (endoscopic). Both are outpatient procedures and usually result in reducing pain and improving function. Like all surgeries, though, there are risks involved, and recovery can be arduous. Following surgery, most wrists are splinted or heavily bandaged for at least a week. Following sprint and bandage removal, physical therapy will begin with the goal of improving strength, flexibility, and mobility in the wrist and hand. Physical therapy also will help to speed up recovery, which can last anywhere between a few days to a few months. Physical therapy will begin with soft tissue massage and ice to bring down the swelling. If stitches are still present in the wrist, exercises may focus on regaining range of motion in the fingers. These exercises might include moving the fingers into different fist positions and flexing the thumb.