Carpal Tunnel Release

This page provides brief information to a carpal tunnel release. If you have any questions or would like further information, speak to your GP or health professional.

Carpal tunnel syndrome in brief

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the median nerve, which runs through the narrow carpal tunnel in your wrist. If this nerve experiences increased pressure, it generates numbness and pain in your hand, thumb, index and middle fingers.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of surgery include relieving the numbness and pain in your hand, as well as preventing permanent nerve damage.

Is there an alternative?

Mild symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be helped by wearing a wrist support at night.
The pain and numbness caused by the condition can also be reduced by a steroid injection close to the carpal tunnel.

What does it involve?

Often performed under local anaesthetic, a carpal tunnel release lasts approximately twenty minutes.

The tight flexor retinaculum ligament (roof of the carpal tunnel) is cut by your surgeon via a small incision in the palm of your hand.

Figure 1
Median nerve running under the flexor retinaculum
Copyright © 2014 EIDO Healthcare Limited

What about complications?

General complications can include:

  • Scarring
  • Infection of the surgical wound site
  • Bleeding
  • Pain

Specific complications can include:

  • Return of numbness and pain
  • Aching in the wrist
  • Tenderness of the scar
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the hand)
  • Numbness in your thumb, index and middle fingers

What about recovery time?

You will be allowed to go home on the same day as the operation. For the first two days the hand should remain raised and bandaged. The fingers, elbow and shoulders should be gently exercised to stop stiffness – exercise will also enable you to return to your normal routine and activities as quickly as possible. Don’t forget to ask your healthcare professional or GP for advice before you start exercising.
Symptoms may continue to improve for up to six months after your carpal tunnel release.

Carpal tunnel release summary

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain and numbness in your hand, thumb, index and middle fingers. The symptoms can be improved and permanent nerve damaged can be avoided with a carpal tunnel release.



EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Carpal Tunnel Release Consultants