Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where there is increased pressure on the nerve that crosses the front of your wrist (the median nerve). The median nerve runs through a tight tunnel, together with the tendons that bend your fingers.

What are the benefits of carpal tunnel syndrome treatment?

The main benefit of carpal tunnel syndrome treatment is to relieve pain and numbness in the hand.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

If your symptoms are mild, a wrist support worn at night often helps.

A steroid injection near the carpal tunnel can reduce the numbness or pain in most people, but the symptoms usually come back.

What does the operation involve?

Carpal tunnel syndrome treatment can usually be performed under local anaesthetic and usually takes about a quarter of an hour.

Your surgeon will make a small cut in the palm of your hand. They will then cut the tight ligament (called the flexor retinaculum) that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel (see figure 1). This stops the nerve being compressed.

What complications can happen?

1. General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Scarring


2. Specific complications of this operation

  • Continued numbness in your thumb, index and middle fingers
  • Tenderness of the scar
  • Aching in the wrist
  • Return of numbness and pain
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the hand (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)


How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.You should keep your hand lifted up and bandaged for the first couple of days. It is important to gently exercise your fingers, elbow and shoulder to prevent stiffness. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible following carpal tunnel syndrome treatment.