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Treatments

Carpal tunnel release

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About carpal tunnel release

Carpal tunnel release is an operation to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. This is when there is pressure on a nerve that controls sensation and movement in your hand, called the median nerve. This pressure is at a point called the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is a space between the bones in your wrist and a ligament that lies across the front of your wrist. A ligament is a band of tough connective tissue.

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in your arm, hand and fingers. Carpal tunnel surgery will release the pressure on your median nerve and relieve these symptoms.

How can I prepare for my carpal tunnel release?

Your surgeon will explain how to prepare and what will happen when you have carpal tunnel release surgery. You should arrange to have someone take you home after the procedure.

What happens during my carpal tunnel release?

Before the procedure, your surgeon will talk you through the process and ask you to sign a consent form.

When you have carpal tunnel release surgery, you will be seen as a day case. Carpal tunnel release is usually performed under local anaesthesia. This will numb your wrist and hand, and completely block any pain.

Your surgeon will make a single cut in your wrist or palm (or cuts if you are having keyhole surgery). He or she will then cut the ligament in your carpal tunnel. This will make space in your carpal tunnel and reduce pressure on your median nerve. Your surgeon will then close the cut in your wrist or palm with stitches.

Are there any complications or risks of my carpal tunnel release?

As with every procedure, there are complications associated with carpal tunnel release. However, these are rare. Speak to your surgeon for more information.

Complications of carpal tunnel release include infection and bleeding. It's also possible that nerves, blood vessels or tendons in your wrist may be damaged during carpal tunnel surgery.

Other complications of carpal tunnel release surgery include a loss of strength when you grip objects. You might also have persistent pain around your scar. However, these usually improve as your wrist heals.

Most people have a successful operation. However, it's possible that your symptoms can come back.

Recovering from carpal tunnel release

You can use your hand and do light activities from the day of your carpal tunnel release surgery.

You may initially have some pain, swelling, and stiffness. It can take around three months to recover from carpal tunnel release surgery. You might need to have some physiotherapy to get the strength back in your wrist.

You may be able to return to work around two weeks after your surgery but this will depend on the type of job you have. Ask your surgeon for advice about driving.

How much does carpal tunnel release cost? 

For a guide to what you could pay for your treatment, click here.

What to do next

Once you have decided that you would like to be treated at an HCA hospital, or would like further information, here's what to do next:

  1. Call one of our advisors on +44 (0) 20 3582 3133 or complete our web enquiry form.
  2. Check with your insurance company that your policy covers your treatment, and obtain authorisation.
  3. Visit or call your GP to obtain a referral letter and then call us to make an appointment to visit your chosen consultant and hospital at a time to suit you.
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