Skip to navigation Skip to content
Sulis hospital bath banner

Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery

Carpal tunnel release is a surgical procedure used to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Here’s what you need to know:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS):

CTS occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed within the carpal tunnel.

Symptoms of CTS include:

Aching or pain in the fingers, hand, or arm.

Numbness in the hands.

Tingling or pins-and-needles sensation.

Weakness in the thumb or difficulty gripping.

These symptoms often start gradually and may be worse at night.

Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome:

The median nerve passes through a tight tunnel on the front of the wrist, alongside tendons that bend the fingers.

If the tunnel becomes too tight, it puts pressure on the nerve, leading to pain or numbness in the thumb, index, and middle fingers.

Importance of carpal tunnel release surgery:

Carpal tunnel release surgery aims to relieve pressure on the median nerve.

The procedure involves cutting through the tight ligament (called the flexor retinaculum) that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel.

By doing so, the pressure on the nerve is reduced, allowing it to function properly and alleviating symptoms like tingling sensations.

During the surgery:

Your surgeon will make a small incision on the palm of your hand.

They will carefully cut through the flexor retinaculum.

This creates more space within the carpal tunnel, relieving pressure on the median nerve.

Carpal tunnel release is typically performed as a day-case procedure, meaning you can go home on the same day.

It’s important to be informed when making decisions about your health. Here are the potential risks:

Sensitivity and scarring

After surgery, you may experience sensitivity around the incision site.

Scarring of the skin is common, but tenderness usually improves within 6 weeks.

Since the incision is typically made in a skin crease, the scar tends to become nearly invisible over time.

Nerve damage

During the operation, there’s a risk of damaging the median nerve or one of its branches.

Numbness in your thumb, index, and middle fingers can result from nerve injury.


Surgical wounds can become infected.

You can usually shower safely after two days, as long as you keep the wound dry and covered.

As the local anaesthetic begins to wear off, you will start to feel tingling in your hand. It’s crucial to continue wiggling and moving your fingers to maintain proper blood flow and reduce any stiffness that may occur.

After surgery, you’ll receive pain relief medication for potential pain. Typically, this occurs around 2 days after your surgery.

The nurse will explain when you can remove the bandage, but it’s essential to keep the area dry and clean.

Your stitches will be removed (unless dissolvable stitches were used) a few days after surgery. You might notice a scar on your palm, which can be treated with special ointments.

Post-surgery weakness: Your hand may feel weaker initially, but it’s crucial to gradually build strength. Consider seeing a physiotherapist at this point.

Return to activities

After a few weeks, you should be able to resume normal activities and after a few days, you can engage in light activities.

For some people symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome improve rapidly, however, for others recovery may be slower due to nerve damage caused by pressure before the operation.

Your recovery journey will depend on individual factors, so follow your surgeon’s guidance closely.

Treatment Overview

Combining a calming hospital environment with outstanding patient care so you can recover as quickly as possible.

  • Covered by health insurance? Yes

  • Can I pay privately? Yes

You’re in safe hands at Sulis Hospital.

Enquire now

Talk to the experts

Fast track your treatment

We are here to answer any questions you might have and can also provide guide prices. Simply fill in your details below.

We would like to provide you with marketing information about products and services offered by Sulis Hospital Bath and by selected third-party partners. If you do not consent for us to process your personal data for marketing activities, we will still be able to contact you about your enquiry.

Please tick the box(es) to confirm your consent to receive marketing information from the Sulis Hospital Bath:

Marketing information

We will use your personal information to process your enquiry and contact you with relevant information. For further information, please see our website privacy policy.