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Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery

Image of hand
Possible incision sites for endoscopic surgery

Image of hand
Possible incision site for open surgery

Surgery may be done if your CTS symptoms become severe. Or, you may have surgery if no other treatment brings relief. There are two types of CTS procedures. You will be told about the one you will have. You’ll also be instructed how to prepare for it.

Endoscopic surgery

The Goals of Surgery

Two types of surgery—open and endoscopic—are used to treat CTS.

  • With open surgery, your surgeon makes one incision in your palm. Standard surgical tools are used.

  • With endoscopic surgery, one or two small incisions may be made in your hand. A scope (with a very small camera attached) and tools are inserted under the carpal ligament. The surgeon then operates while watching images on a video screen. No matter which one you have, the goal remains the same: Your surgeon will relieve pressure on the median nerve. To do this, the transverse carpal ligament is cut (released).

When to Call the Surgeon

Call your surgeon if you notice any of the following:

  • White or pale-blue hand or nails (If you pinch your skin or nail and the color doesn’t return)

  • Pain that is not relieved by prescribed medication

  • Loss of sensation or excess swelling in hand or fingers

  • Fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius), redness, or drainage from the wound

After Surgery

If you’ve had carpal tunnel surgery, you will spend a few hours resting before you go home. The nerve sensation and circulation in your hand will be checked at this time. For the safest healing, keep the following in mind.

  • Keep your hand raised above heart level. This will help reduce swelling.

  • Limit hand and wrist use as instructed.

  • Take any pain medication as directed, if needed.

  • Do hand exercises as directed by your surgeon or therapist.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chamberlain, Kevin, DO
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 8/10/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.