Carpal Tunnel Release - Edinburgh Clinic
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Carpal Tunnel Release

Carpal tunnel release surgery is explained within this page. If you have any further questions about this procedure, it is best to contact a member of your professional healthcare team or speak to your GP.

Information on carpal tunnel syndrome

The condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome describes increased pressure on the median nerve located in the front of your wrist. This nerve runs through a very narrow tunnel, known as the carpal tunnel, which it shares with the tendons that allow your fingers to move and bend.

The benefits of surgery explained

The pain and numbness in your hand caused by this condition can be alleviated with surgery.

What are the alternatives to surgery?

A wrist support worn at night for mild symptoms and a steroid injection near the carpal tunnel can lessen the numbness or pain experienced with carpal tunnel syndrome.

What does a carpal tunnel release entail?

The surgery is often performed under local anaesthetic.

In the twenty minute operation, the surgeon will make a small incision in your palm. This will allow access to cut the tight ligament known as the flexor retinaculum (the roof of the carpal tunnel).


Figure 1
Median nerve running under the flexor retinaculum

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Complications that may occur

General complications may include scarring, bleeding, infection of the surgical site and pain.

Specific complications may include complex regional pain syndrome (stiffness and a loss of use of the hand), scar tenderness, numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers, an aching in the wrist and a return of the pain felt before the operation.

Will recovery take long?

It is common to go home on the same day following the operation. You will be advised to keep your hand bandaged and raised for the first couple of days, after which you should gently exercise your fingers, elbow and shoulders to alleviate stiffness. Exercising on a regular basis will ensure that you can resume normal activities quickly, however it is important to ask your GP or a member of your healthcare team for advice before you start exercising.

It is common for symptoms to continue to improve for up to six months after a carpal tunnel release.

In summary

Carpal tunnel release can alleviate the pain and numbness in your hand that is associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. It can also prevent permanent nerve damage.

References: 

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.