Carpal tunnel surgery is often a last-resort intervention—recommended for people whose symptoms have already become intractable or have caused significant quality-of-life issues.
If your orthopedic surgeon has told you that you need carpal tunnel surgery, you’re likely wondering how long it might take for you to recover from it and what you can do to help ensure a successful recovery. The information below aims to help set your expectations of the recovery process for carpal tunnel surgery.
How Long It Takes to Recover from Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Recovery time for carpal tunnel surgery varies, depending on how long the nerve has been compressed, the surgical approach your doctor uses, and on which hand your surgery was done (whether on your dominant hand).
Endoscopic tunnel surgery—a technique in which your doctor inserts a thin, flexible viewing instrument (endoscope) through a tiny incision in your wrist to access and cut the transverse carpal ligament and release the median nerve—allows for a faster recovery compared to the open (traditional) approach.
If you had open surgery and on your dominant hand, and your job involves repetitive movements (e.g., typing, assembly-line work, etc.), your doctor may not allow you to return to work until 6 to 8 weeks after the procedure. If the surgery was on your other hand and your job doesn’t involve repetitive actions, you may be allowed to return to work within 7 to 14 days.
You may experience symptom relief (i.e., numbness and tingling sensation) immediately following your surgery, although complete healing and recovery of your grip and pinch strength may take longer, up to a few months. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medications to help ensure your comfort as you recover.
What Recovery from Carpal Tunnel Surgery Entails
Following your surgery, your wrist will likely be bandaged or splinted. You will wear it for up two weeks, during which you need to move your fingers to prevent stiffness. Before your doctor gives you a clearance to go home, they will provide you with a detailed list of postoperative instructions to let you know which specific activity restrictions you need to follow.
Your surgeon will likely schedule a follow-up appointment after two weeks to remove the bandage or splint. As soon as your stitches are removed, your surgeon will likely recommend that you start physical therapy to help promote healing in your hand.
Let your doctor know right away if you experience any of the following, as such are potential signs of an infection:
- Bleeding or purulent drainage
- Redness and swelling
- Increased pain around the area
Carpal Tunnel Surgery in Plantation and Miami Lakes, FL
At The Orthopaedic Hand and Arm Center, Dr. Tosca Kinchelow prides herself on her clinical acumen, surgical skills, and commitment to delivering exceptional care and patient outcomes for all types of upper-extremity problems—including carpal tunnel syndrome. Should surgery be necessary for your case, you can count on her to take all necessary measures to ensure you have a safe and successful recovery no matter the surgical approach she uses.
To arrange an appointment with Dr. Kinchelow, call us today at (888) 908-9036 or use our online request form.