Carpal Tunnel Release Summary

Carpal tunnel release is a surgery that is designed to treat individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome. This surgery is done on an outpatient basis. During the surgery patients are awake, but given anesthesia to block pain and encourage relaxation.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by narrowing of the carpal tunnel passage. The narrowing of the passage leads to compression or pinching of the nerve. This causes pain and weakness in the hand and wrist.

Carpal tunnel release is usually performed on patients who have achieved little to no relief after being treated with non-surgical methods. A test called an EMG is done to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. Once diagnosis is confirmed, surgery should be scheduled promptly to prevent nerve damage.

Length of the procedure: 1 hour or less.

Hospital Stay: This is an outpatient procedure.

Recovery before traveling home: Patients seeking carpal tunnel release through medical tourism can return home within 24 in most cases.

Procedure Details

Your surgery begins with the administration of anesthesia to block pain and promote relaxation. The area will be prepped with a sterile antiseptic liquid. Then, an incision usually about an inch in length is made on the palm of the hand.

After the initial incision is made the surgeon will carefully expose the carpal tunnel by making an incision through the connective tissue immediately below the skin’s surface. When they have the carpal tunnel in sight they will release it by cutting it with a scalpel or scissors.

To finish the procedure the surgeon will stitch the skin together. The carpal tunnel is left divided. However, the two ends of the carpal tunnel will fill in with scar tissue over time.

After the Procedure

After the procedure your wrist will be wrapped in bandages and a splint. The splint and bandages will need to remain in place for about a week’s time. You may have some discomfort, but you will be given a prescription for pain medication to help relieve any discomfort.

One week after your carpal tunnel release surgery you will need to start performing motion exercises to promote healing and ensure returned function. Your doctor will recommend certain motion exercises or they may prescribe professional physical therapy. Depending on the extent of your carpal tunnel syndrome it can take a few weeks to an entire year to completely recover from the procedure.


The prognosis for carpal tunnel release is very good. This procedure can effectively get rid of the pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, nearly 85% of patients who have this surgery experience relief from their symptoms. Many also experience increased strength and restored function.

Risks and Complications

As is with any surgery there are risks associated with carpal tunnel release. However, this is considered a low risk and safe procedure. The following is a list of the most common risks and complications:

  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Incision pain
  • Scar sensitivity
  • Arterial damage
  • Inflammation
  • Stiffness
  • Hand or wrist weakness
  • Injury to the median nerve
  • Nerve damage
  • Need for repeat repair caused by improper healing
  • Scar tissue formation

Any concerns you have regarding these risks before or after the procedure should be discussed with your surgeon promptly.

Contact your physician if:
  • Swelling increases
  • Pain increases
  • Pain is not relieved by medication
  • Bleeding is excessive or uncontrolled
  • Bright red bleeding comes from incision
  • The incision feels warm or has a warm sensation
  • The incision or surrounding are becomes red
  • Discharge accompanied by an odor comes from the incision
  • Nausea or vomiting develops
  • Fever is uncontrolled with Tylenol or ibuprofen
  • Dizziness develops
  • Headache develops
  • Muscle aches accompanied with chills