Right After Carpal Tunnel Surgery

after carpal tunnel surgery

In the recovery room right after carpal tunnel surgery

I love roaming the post-op room where patients rest after carpal tunnel surgery. In the pre-op room, faces are all frightened. Here faces are all smiles and relieved that their operation is finally over. Some are even giddy and joking around.

They’re also happy because they can’t feel anything…yet!

More than likely they had regional anesthesia, commonly known as a nerve block. That means the surgeon only numbs the hand and wrist. Many patients also get supplemental sedation in order to relax and calm them down. You might say it puts them in a semi-conscious state. That’s why there’s no pain right after carpal tunnel surgery.

What will happen to me right after carpal tunnel surgery?

You’ve decided on surgery for your carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms are so bad that carpal tunnel release surgery is your last hope for relief. You did your homework to find out what happens during the actual operation. But did you learn what will happen after carpal tunnel surgery? That’s when the real work to restore your hand begins.

Once the doctor puts in the last stitch, a bandage goes over your hand. This is to keep the wound free of infection. Infection is one of the biggest complications of this surgery. So keeping the bandage clean and dry is an important part of your life after surgery.

In the recovery room, you will either be wide awake or just waking up. That depends on if you had a local or general anesthesia. With a local anesthesia, your hand will not hurt because it is numb. With general anesthesia, you may feel some discomfort even though you were given a pain injection.

You stay in the recovery room until the doctor or nurse sees stable vital signs. They also check for any adverse reactions or complications. Once they determine you’re able to walk you can go home.

sleep with hand raised

While at home after carpal tunnel surgery

  • Some rough nights: Your first day at home will be difficult. Your hand will start to “wake up” in a few hours. That’s when the pain starts. But you will have medication to help. Take the pills on schedule and follow the medication label.
  • Mind your stitches! You will almost certainly have a troubled sleep for your first 1-3 nights. But with the right pain medication, it won’t be too bad. Elevate your arm on pillows to help keep blood from pooling. Remove all things from the bedside that you may accidentally bang your hand into. Ripping stitches is very common. It will make your recovery after carpal tunnel surgery even more miserable.
  • As pain lessens: Within 2-4 days the pain will decrease. You might even be able to get off the pain pills and take over-the-counter pills. When bathing, keep your hand away from water. You can cover it with a plastic bag and tape when showering. Furthermore, try to wiggle your fingers as much as you can. Don’t over-do it! Some exercise will keep your fingers from freezing due to adhesions.
  • Back to work? Some people who have endoscopic surgery can try going back to work now. But such is usually not advisable. However, if the workload is light and your hand can rest, working is possible. After open release surgery, you probably will have to wait 3-6 weeks to return to work.

Removing the bandages

Finally, after about 10 days, your bandages come off. What a relief! In its place, you get one of several kinds of carpal tunnel braces. Wear the brace 24/7. After carpal tunnel surgery with endoscopy, you only need it at night. But after open release surgery, you may need it for 1-2 more months. Then it can come off during the day. But you must still wear it at night for another 1-2 months.

When the bandages come off you can begin hand therapy. This aims at restoring the hand’s strength and range of motion.

Aftercare and therapy

This period of time can last for months to a year. It aims to fully restore hand function. Sometimes this is a slow process. And it depends on several factors. They include your age, commitment to therapy, your own healing speed, smoking, and general health.


After carpal tunnel surgery you can expect to spend most or your time managing the pain. As soon as you arrive home, you will get into a routine with your pain medicines until pain subsides. Sleeping, bathing and toileting will be difficult, but should get easier in the coming days. Depending on which type of surgery you had, your recovery time can last weeks to months.

cure carpal tunnel at home

Two 15 minute Carpal Rx treatments for 30 days cures symptoms in 97% of carpal tunnel patients.

Those limitations are why I invented  the Carpal Rx. It exactly duplicates what a physical therapist does and you use it from the comfort of your home. Two 15 minute treatments for 30 days cures symptoms in 97% of patients.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Remember, we’re here for you and it’s fine to call us up just to pick our brains!