Post Operative Instructions
Open Carpal Tunnel Release
- Keep your incision dry, but it is okay to take a shower and wash your hands. Please do not put your operative hand in a tub, pool, hot tub or sink of water for 2 weeks after surgery.
- Keep the surgical wound covered with a band aid or bandage for the first week. Please do not apply antibiotic ointment or use peroxide on the surgical site. The stitches will be removed approximately 7-10 days after surgery.
- Elevate your hand above your heart when up. You may cross your wrist over your chest to the opposite shoulder or strike the "Statue of Liberty" pose with the operative hand.
- Report redness, swelling or drainage to our office at 804.320.1339.
- Wear the short arm splint for the first 2-3 weeks after surgery, while you sleep and during the day for activities.
- Move your fingers frequently, straightening them completely, and making a full fist several times per hours.
- Refrain from pushing, pulling, lifting or grabbing with the operative hand and do not lift anything that weighs 5 lbs for more. (ex. A gallon of milk weighs 8 lbs)
What should I expect during the first month after surgery?
- You should experience minimal pain, which is usually relieved by resting your hand, taking over the counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Pain at the surgical site can occur with direct pressure over the incision, such as that experienced when pushing yourself out of a chair.
- Nighttime awakening (related to your carpal tunnel syndrome) usually goes away soon after surgery.
- Numbness and tingling may linger for a short while, but improves with time after surgery.
- It is common to have mild swelling at the surgical site, but usually is not associated with pain or redness.
- Some people experience pain on either side (or both sides) of the incision around 5-6 weeks after surgery. This is known as "pillar pain". It results from the new architecture of your wrist after surgery. The pain comes from the "pulling" sensation of the muscles in your hand, since the band that suspended them together has been cut.
- Wearing a splint may make your wrist feel "weak". This is very common but improves as you begin to use your wrist more.
- It can take anywhere from 4-6 months to regain strength in the hand after carpal tunnel surgery. Please make an appointment to be seen if you having concerns.