Pain after Carpal Tunnel Surgery

pain after carpal tunnel surgery

Pain after carpal tunnel surgery

Did you have carpal tunnel release surgery? Do you have a lot of pain afterward? In fact, patients often ask me about having pain after carpal tunnel surgery. I reply, “What kind of pain?” There are two types of pain that result from surgery. Both are normal. But other pain may signal something else is wrong.

Two types of pain after carpal tunnel surgery

Immediate pain after carpal tunnel surgery is normal. In fact, it’s especially common with the open release type of surgery. But not so with endoscopic surgery. So in this regard pain within the first week is normal. In general, there are two types of carpal tunnel surgery pain that you might feel. Namely, they are incisional pain and pillar pain.

  • Incisional pain is the pain right on the cut site. This usually lasts for 3-10 days after surgery. However, you can make it hurt less by taking pain medicines, and avoid gripping, lifting, or forceful hand movements.
  • Pillar pain is felt the thicker, fleshy sides of the cut. That’s where the ligament (that the surgeon cut) was attached to the bones. And since muscles are also disturbed here, they contribute to the pain. Indeed, this excessive pain is a complication. It may take 2-6 months for the pain to go away. However, you can treat pillar pain with pain medicines, rest, wrist massage, and therapy. Furthermore, pillar pain goes away slowly, so be patient.

Numbness and Tingling after Carpal Tunnel Surgery

You might not feel pain, but numbness and tingling may persist after surgery. This is usually due to two reasons. First, the surgeon did not fully cut the ligament. That means the median nerve is still compressed. This happens mostly with endoscopic surgery. Second, other things are pushing on the nerve, so cutting the ligament didn’t matter. This is a bigger problem, leading to nerve damage. That means numbness or tingling will never completely disappear.

Pain from infection

Infection is after carpal tunnel surgery is not common. However, it does happens once in a while. To avoid that, be sure to take care of the area as instructed to help prevent infection. This is especially true in the first week after surgery. If an infection is causing pain after carpal tunnel surgery, the doctor will give you antibiotics. If the infection is especially bad, you might another surgery clean the infection from the wound site.

Pain from nerve injury

Another uncommon complication of hand surgery is median nerve damage. It occurs more often with endoscopic surgery. Most times this pain goes away in 1-3 months. However, feelings like numbness, itching or burning may take its place.

The typical injury occurs to one of two smaller nerve branches. One controls the thumb muscles. The other carries feeling from the palm of the hand.

Pain after carpal tunnel surgery due to surgical failure

Sometimes pain never totally disappears. Sometimes it goes away then comes back again in a few weeks or months. If you had carpal tunnel release surgery but still feel symptoms, you might in the unlucky group. It’s not unusual to see patients where the surgery didn’t live up to its promises. Doctors consider that a “failed surgery”. But failed surgeries happens about 50% of the time when patient satisfaction is measured. Even worse, the chances of success after a second surgery is only about 10%. Most of these patients simply live and cope with the symptoms. It also includes living with the physical, emotional and financial scar of having a failed surgery.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says over 500,000 carpal tunnel surgeries are done each year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health has another statistic. They say for those who had carpal tunnel release surgery, only 20-24% returned to their former job after surgery.


Pain after carpal tunnel surgery is common. In fact, almost all patients experience some degree of pain in their first few days. But persistent pain for several days to weeks in abnormal. You should contact your doctor if this happens.

cure carpal tunnel at home

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

Pain after carpal tunnel surgery is a very real problem. It is one main reason I invented  the Carpal Rx. Instead of having surgery, you can cure symptoms at home. The Carpal Rx replicates the motions of a physical therapist uses on your wrist and forearm. Two daily 15 minute treatments for 30 days cures symptoms in 97% of patients.

Whatever you decide to do, remember we’re here for you. It’s fine to call us up and pick our brains!