Carpal tunnel syndrome 

Recovery after carpal tunnel surgery  

Recovery tips

  • bend and extend your fingers at regular intervals
  • keep your arm raised, particularly at night, to help reduce inflammation
  • do not lift heavy objects until your hand has fully healed
  • avoid getting your dressing wet when washing and cover it up whenever possible

After having surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), you can use your hand to do light activities that do not cause excessive pain or discomfort.

However, try to avoid using your hand for more demanding activities until it has completely recovered, which may take several weeks.

The recovery time for open release surgery is usually slightly longer than the recovery time for keyhole surgery. Studies have also shown that there is less pain during the first three months after keyhole surgery compared with open release surgery. However, both methods have proven to be equally effective in treating CTS.

Open release surgery

Following open release surgery, your hand may take around six weeks to heal. Depending on the nature of your job, you should be able to return to work two to six weeks after your operation.

Keyhole surgery

Returning to work after keyhole surgery will depend on the nature of your job and which hand was operated on.

For example, if surgery was on your dominant hand and your work involves carrying out repetitive activities, it is likely that you will need about four weeks to recover from surgery.

If surgery was not on your dominant hand and your job does not involve repetitive activities that might affect your recovery, you may be able to return to work after one or two days.

Page last reviewed: 19/09/2012

Next review due: 19/09/2014


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The 7 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Sheri Girl said on 02 September 2014

This is for katie99. I had carpal tunnel release surgery & my doctor did cubital release (on ulnar nerve on elbow) at same time. It's been about 3-1/2 weeks. I am sore. I came back to work too soon I think. I work at a desk & I am on a computer all day. My elbow is actually doing ok but my wrist hurts especially later in the day. I have been getting the zingers today now & lots of weakness. Kind of hard to describe to someone. I guess this will take more time. My advice is to make sure you take enough time off of work & don't rush the healing process.

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katie99 said on 13 July 2014

Had open release carpal tunnel surgery 6/09/14. Everything went perfectly, with little pain the first two weeks. Carpal tunnel numbness, tingling, and night pain gone immediately. However, the scar tissue I now have is fairly significant, along with swelling and what I call 'zingers' (shooting pains when doing nothing with my hand). I'm in therapy and nothing so far has helped. Feels like a squash ball under my palm. Anyone have this happen?

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LOWFLYER said on 22 June 2014

I had surgery on my right hand on the 16/06/14 which took about 10 minutes and was awake all the time talking to the Doctor and Nurses and singing along to a Queen CD wouldn't have missed it for the world. Removed bandages next day and started to do the recommended exercises and each day they got easer to do. I made a list (15 ) things I should be able to do with my hand, it is now the 22/06/14 and I can do 7 of them such as using my tooth brush, writing, using PC mouse, cutting with scissors and putting my contact lenses in all of which was not possible before the surgery. Can't wait to get the stitches removed (27/06/14) so as I start to peel the veggies to make some home made soup and get back to my hobby of Scuba Diving. I have never take any pain killers at any time since the surgery and would recommend any one with CPS symptoms to get the surgery done as soon as possible as the quicker you do the more chance of a complete recovery. Will update once my stitches are out.

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annechar said on 16 March 2014

I had surgery on the 15th of January on my right hand. NCVT said I was moderate to severe in the right and mild to moderate in the left. The pain before surgery was about a 5/10 with numbness,tingling and swelling in my thumb area. Surgery took 15mins. I watched it all! It is now March and the area around the stitches is rock hard, I cannot put thumb to finger, lost my grip, cannot hold a pen or knife and I walk on crutches and this is becoming impossible. I am having a re-test and they want to operate again. No thanks, hand to sore to take another injection.

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jpbrooky said on 01 January 2014

I had open release surgery on my right hand nine days ago at Oswestry orthopedic.
The surgery was pain free and only lasted about ten minutes, my hand was bandaged but i was able to use it to get dressed afterwards and was on my way home within ninety minutes.
I only used pain relief (paracetemol) on the day of surgery.
The symptoms from which i was suffering have gone.
My hand feels weak but getting stronger every day.
The stitches are being removed tomorrow.
This has been a positive experience for me and would advise anybody not to suffer with CTS and go for it!

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DWINTH said on 28 December 2013

I had open release surgery with local anthestic at Park Royal and i can say the needle hurt, never again
will I have this.
10th December stitches out after which i have suffered with various pains in the wrist and burning in the area of the wound, i am right handed and work as an electrician or should i say did.
I presently feel as if a 6inch nail is sticking through the base of the palm of my hand.i can only hope this will get better

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jokay57 said on 16 October 2013

I had a right CTR done 2 months ago as an open procedure and it has healed well. I hadn't realised how much feeling I had lost until it started to return. I had the left hand done last week by keyhole procedure. At first it felt really good, but over the last 2 days the discomfort in my fingers is getting worse as the week goes on. I was not expecting this at all. I cannot find any information as to whether this is normal or not.

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