Carpal tunnel release

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a relatively common condition that causes pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers. Usually, these sensations develop gradually and start off being worse during the night. They tend to affect the thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger.

Other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pins and needles (paraesthesia), thumb weakness, a dull ache in the hand or arm.

Surgery is usually only recommended for severe cases of CTS when symptoms last for more than six months or other treatments have not been effective. Surgery for CTS is known as carpal tunnel decompression or carpal tunnel release and is performed on an outpatient basis, which means you will not have to stay in hospital overnight.

During surgery the roof of the carpal tunnel, known as the carpal ligament, is cut to reduce pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. A local anaesthetic is used to numb your hand and wrist but you will remain awake throughout the operation. The surgery can be performed as open surgery, which involves making a single cut in the wrist and is the traditional type of operation..

Following carpal tunnel release surgery, your hand will remain in a bandage for a couple of days and you may need to wear a sling. You should keep your hand raised for 48 hours to help reduce any swelling and stiffness in your fingers.

To help prevent stiffness, gently exercise your fingers, shoulder and elbow. You may be able to start these gentle exercises on the day of your operation.

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