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  You are at: Procedure info > Hand Surgery > Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Carpal Tunnel Surgery
















When is Carpal Tunnel Surgery needed?

If a cause for your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be found, then the first step is to try to treat this cause. In the case of pregnancy, this simply involves waiting until the pregnancy is over - often, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will subside soon after delivery. Thyroid problems can often be treated with medication, although surgery may occasionally be needed.

Some people, such as those that are pregnant, may benefit from splintage of the wrist, usually at night, which helps to relieve symptoms and may even lead to resolution of the condition.

Steroid injections into the wrist area may occasionally be used to help relieve the symptoms. and can sometimes even lead to complete resolution of problems.

If these non-surgical approaches do not lead to resolution of your symptoms, then Carpal Tunnel surgery may be required. In certain cases your specialist may feel that your symptoms will not respond to non-surgical methods and arrange for surgery early on.


How is Carpal Tunnel Surgery performed?

Carpal tunnel surgery scar

Often, despite trying non-surgical treatment, surgery is required to open up the tunnel and relieve the pressure on the nerve. In 'open decompression', an incision is made from the middle of the wrist crease to about a third of the way up the palm. The 'endoscopic decompression' technique uses smaller incisions and 'keyhole surgery' to access the tunnel and release it. There is still much debate over which technique is best, and the method used is usually dependant on surgeon preferences and experiences. Either way, expect to need to rest the hand for at least two weeks after the operation, possibly longer.


What risks are involved with Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

  • Persistence of symptoms - although the carpal tunnel has been fully decompressed, the symptoms may still persist. This can be due to the nerve being damaged from being compressed for so long, or that there is another site of compression elsewhere (such as the elbow)

  • Recurrence - occasionally, the syptoms of Carpal tunnel syndrome can recur after months or years. This may require further operation, but is rare.

  • Nerve damage - whilst releasing the carpal tunnel, very fine side branches of the main nerve may be cut. This can lead to a small patch of permanent numbness to the palm area, or even weakness of the thumb. Fortunately this is rare.

  • Pain - the scar can sometimes be tender, especially when performing manual work. Usually, this settles in time. Rarely, cut ends of small nerves can form neuromas - these are tender nodules of nerve regrowth that lie under the scar. Neuromas are very tender, and a further procedure may be needed to try to tackle them.

  • Loss of grip strength - releasing the carpal tunnel can sometimes lead to a reduction in grip strength.


You may also wish to read about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or read an account of a patient's Real Experience of Carpal Tunnel Surgery



Any procedure involving skin incision can also result in unfavourable scarring, wound infection, or bleeding. This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. Whilst these risks will seem very worrysome, and indeed can be serious, it should also be borne in mind that many people have no postoperative problems whatsoever.

The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding if this is the right procedure for you. Please also read our disclaimer






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