Carpal Tunnel Release Post-Operative Instructions

Robert H. Bradley, M.D.

Wound Care

You will be discharged with a bulky dressing consisting of gauze and an ace bandage. Please remove the entire dressing 2 days after your operation and inspect the wound. Some bruising and swelling is normal. Keep your incision clean and dry. This will help reduce the risk of infection. Please do not use any ointments or creams on the incision until it is fully healed. You may clean any blood or drainage from the incision using peroxide. You will need to cover your dressings with a plastic bag when taking a shower to keep the incision dry. Please notify the clinic if you notice any increased redness or drainage from your incision site.


Local anesthetic is injected in and around the incision. This area and possibly some of the fingers may remain numb for several hours after surgery. When this medication wears off, you may need to take pain medications. If you experience excessive numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers, you may need to adjust the tightness of the ace bandage. Anti-inflammatories e.g. Advil (ibuprofen) or Naprosyn (naproxen) will also help with your symptoms.

Activity & Travel

Slight elevation of the hand for the first 24 hours after surgery will help prevent swelling and stiffness. Hand and finger movement should be continued and you should perform normal light activities after the operation. Do not pick up anything heavy. You may need help with certain household tasks such as cooking, cleaning and laundry. After the first 2 weeks, slowly increase your activity level until your recovery is complete.

What to Expect

You will have a scar that will be somewhat firm to the touch and tender for 6-8 weeks. Massaging the area firmly may help. You may find that your grip is weaker than previously and slightly painful. This should improve with time. Patients who may have had very numb fingers or severe atrophy (wasting) of the thumb muscles before surgery may never regain full nerve function. Recovery can be very slow (6-12 months).

Follow Up

You will be asked to return to the clinic two weeks after your operation to have your sutures removed. After the sutures are removed you will be allowed to get the hand wet in a bath or shower. You should avoid soaking the hand in dirty dish-water etc. You should also continue to avoid lifting heavy objects with the hand until healing is complete.