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Carpal tunnel release surgery

Person holding their wrist in pain.

Carpal tunnel release surgery

Carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on a nerve in your wrist. It can cause pain, numbness and burning or tingling sensation to the hand and fingers. If your symptoms get worse and other non-surgical treatments have not worked the surgery may be recommended.

During Carpal Tunnel Release surgery an injection is given to numb your wrist, so you do not feel pain (local anaesthetic) and a small cut is made in your hand. The carpal tunnel inside your wrist is opened so it no longer puts pressure on the nerve. This surgery is performed as a day case which means you go home the same day and don’t need to stay in hospital overnight.

Whilst the surgery is usually performed under local anaesthetic as a day case, you will not be able to drive home yourself as you will have bandaging and it can be uncomfortable to use the hand for the first few days.

While you wait for your carpal tunnel release surgery

There are some things you can do to help manage your symptoms while you wait for your surgery.

Wear a wrist splint

A wrist splint is something you wear on your hand to keep your wrist straight. It helps to relieve pressure on the nerve, and you can wear it at night while you sleep. Wrist splints can be purchased online or from pharmacies. It is important that the wrist is kept in a straight position when the splint is put on.

Stop, or cut down, on things that may be causing it

Stop or cut down on anything that causes you to frequently bend your wrist or grip hard, such as using vibrating tools for work or playing an instrument.

Managing pain

You can take pain relief such as Paracetamol, Anti-inflammatory creams, Codeine, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin. If you need any advice, your local pharmacy will be able to help.

There are several resources to help you manage your pain:

What should you do if your health is deteriorating?

The information on this page is designed to help you manage your symptoms and stay in the best possible health while you wait. It is however possible that some of your symptoms may get worse while you are waiting for your surgery. There are some things to look out for that would indicate you should seek medical help:

  1. If your pain gets worse to the point that it is unmanageable with the pain relief suggested by the pharmacist or doctor, and you are struggling to cope with it.
  2. If you start to see a lot of muscle wasting in your hand or if you find you lose strength in your hand and you are not able to grip a mug or kettle for example.
  3. If you develop persistent numbness in your hand.

If you experience this, we recommend getting in touch with your hospital team. The number and email should be on your last hospital appointment letter.

Alternatively, you can contact your GP practice. Whilst your GP does not have access to the hospital waiting list to get you seen sooner, if your condition is getting worse, they can assess you, give advice and can contact the hospital on your behalf if necessary.

Last Updated: 12 April 2024

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