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Carpal tunnel release is surgery that reduces the pressure on a nerve in the wrist. Your doctor will cut a ligament that presses on the nerve. This lets the nerve pass freely through the tunnel without being squeezed.
The surgery can be open or endoscopic. In open surgery, your doctor makes a small cut in the palm of your hand. This cut is called an incision. In endoscopic surgery, your doctor makes one small incision in the wrist, or one small incision in the wrist and one in the palm. Your doctor puts a thin tube with a camera attached (endoscope) into the incision. Surgical tools are put in along with the endoscope.
In both types of surgeries, the incisions are closed with stitches. The incisions leave scars that usually fade in time.
You may be asleep during the surgery. Or you may be awake and have medicine to numb your hand and arm so you will not feel pain.
After surgery, your wrist and hand pain should begin to go away. It usually takes 3 to 4 months to recover and 1 year before your hand strength returns. How much hand strength returns is different for each person.
You will go home the same day as the surgery. When you can return to work depends on the type of work you do.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: September 20, 2018
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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