Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when there is increased pressure on the median nerve, which resides in a “tunnel” in the tiny wrist (carpal) bones. This large nerve extends between the arm and the hand, and constant pressure on the nerve results in hand and wrist pain, weakness, and numbness.
While there are nonsurgical ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, these methods are not always enough to mitigate the pain caused by the condition. This is where carpal tunnel syndrome release surgery steps in.
There are two kinds of carpal tunnel surgery: open release surgery and endoscopic surgery. The length of your recovery and the specific aftercare procedures will vary based on which surgery you had and other factors, including your overall health and whether your dominant hand was the one that had the surgery.
Below we explain some simple but helpful tips you can follow after your carpal tunnel syndrome release surgery in order to help foster a speedier recovery, and where you can go in Clinton Township and Macomb County for outstanding orthopedic treatment to get your hand back and working properly again.
Tips for Immediately After Surgery
After your carpal tunnel surgery, the nurses and other healthcare providers will monitor you for a short while before being discharged. Carpal tunnel syndrome release surgery rarely requires an overnight stay.
Your wrist is likely to be put in a splint or a heavy bandage, for which your orthopedic doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment for removal. You are encouraged to regularly move your fingers in the affected hand to prevent stiffness and to facilitate circulation flow.
There will be some pain in your hand and wrist for about 24 to 72 hours after the surgery. You can alleviate this discomfort by taking pain relievers prescribed by your orthopedic surgeon. Ask the doctor if you have any (temporary) restrictions, such as diet, activity, or medicine restrictions.
Depending on your orthopedic surgeon’s advice, you may be allowed to take a shower anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after the surgery. Keep the affected hand elevated when you sleep in order to decrease swelling. You can also use an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes every 1–2 hours until the swelling goes down. Keep your bandage or splint dry in order to maintain skin integrity in the area and to prevent infection.
1 Week After Surgery
Continue to keep the affected area dry and clean. If your bandage or splint gets dirty, call your orthopedist’s office to have it replaced.
Avoid engaging in rigorous or repetitive activities that use your hand and wrist. Do not lift heavy objects or use power tools that cause vibration. Keep your hand elevated and keep moving your fingers in the affected area.
You may be able to return to work after a week of rest – but if your dominant hand is the one that was affected, you may need to take more time off. Rest whenever you feel tired – do not push your hand and wrist area and that arm.
Let your orthopedic doctor know if you are experiencing fever, increased pain from the incision, redness, bleeding, or swelling, so that you and your doctor can treat it appropriately.
2–3 Weeks After Surgery
After 1 to 2 weeks, your stitches will be removed. By this time, your pain and soreness should begin to decrease. However, you may need to continue wearing the splint or bandage for another month or so post-surgery.
Your physical therapist will guide you through strengthening and healing exercises you can do under their supervision and at home. Your hand and wrist strength will gradually recover through these exercises.
Long-Term Recovery Tips
While hand strength and grip usually return after 2–3 months, it can take up to a full year before you fully recover from the surgery. You might still feel pain and soreness in your hand, but these symptoms will likely go away if you stick to your physical therapy program.
You will probably be able to get back to more hand-intensive activities that use your affected hand after 4 to 6 weeks.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Release Surgery in Clinton Township, MI
Here at Movement Orthopedics, we provide quality orthopedic care and offer surgical and nonsurgical options to treat your hand and wrist conditions – including carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you have any questions, call us today at (586) 436-3785. You can also request an appointment now via our online form. We look forward to getting you back on your feet!