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Discharge Instructions for Carpal Tunnel Release

You had a carpal tunnel release procedure to help relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. In carpal tunnel syndrome, a nerve in the wrist is compressed and irritated. This causes numbness and pain in the fingers and hand. Carpal tunnel release relieves the compression of the nerve. Here are instructions that will help you care for your arm and wrist when you are at home.

Home care

  • Avoid gripping objects tightly or lifting with your affected arm.

  • Wear your bandage, splint, or cast as directed by your doctor.

  • Always keep the dressing, splint, or cast dry and clean.

  • When showering, cover your hand and  wrist with plastic and use tape or rubberbands to keep the dressing, splint, or cast dry. Shower as necessary.  

  • Use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas — or something similar — wrapped in a thin towel on your wrist to reduce swelling for the first 48 hours. Leave the ice pack on for 20 minutes; then take it off for 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.

  • Keep your arm elevated above your heart for 24 to 48 hours after surgery.

  • Do the exercises you learned in the hospital, or as instructed by your doctor.

  • Take pain medicine as directed.

  • Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s OK. Never drive while you are taking opioid pain medicine.

  • Ask your doctor when you can return to work. If your job requires heavy lifting, you may not be able to begin working again for several weeks.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your doctor.


When to seek medical care

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

Otherwise, call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • A splint, cast, or dressing that has gotten wet

  • Increased bleeding or drainage from the incision (cut)

  • Opening of the incision

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38.9°C) taken by mouth, or shaking chills

  • Any new numbness in the fingers or thumb

  • Blue hand or fingers

  • Increased pain with or without activity

  • Increased redness, tenderness, or swelling of the incision


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