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14th November 2022

Carpal Tunnel Surgery Recovery Time: What To Expect

Dr. Devan Patel, PharmD
Carpal Tunnel Surgery Recovery Time: What To Expect

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve damage disorder caused by too much pressure on the median nerve, located in your wrist. The carpal tunnel is in your wrist between your hand and forearm. It’s a narrow passageway where your finger flexor tendons and median nerve run between. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a result of damage to the median nerve which causes your thumb and hand to become weak. You may experience pain or a pins and needles sensation or numbness. It may even become difficult for you to properly hold things, like a steering wheel. 

If carpal tunnel syndrome begins to interfere with your life or makes you unable to perform daily tasks, surgery may be recommended. Below is what to expect with carpal tunnel surgery and how long your recovery time will be. 

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

In many cases, carpal tunnel syndrome may result from no apparent cause at all. Sometimes it's genetic and sometimes it is caused by frequent repetitive motions with the hand, such as typing or frequent grabbing movements done while playing sports. Other causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include diabetes, injury, or a joint or bone disease. 


Can Carpal Tunnel Be Prevented?

In cases where carpal syndrome has no apparent cause, preventing it may be difficult. However, there are certain lifestyle factors to consider that may reduce your risk of experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome. Refraining from frequent repetitive hand motions and reducing your risk of diabetes by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program may reduce your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Additionally, being proactive about your nerve health by getting the right nutrients may protect you from nerve damage.* NeuraZenx is a multi-nutrient supplement that is formulated to support nerve health.* It uses natural vitamins and minerals chosen for general nerve support.*


What is Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

Carpal tunnel surgery involves a surgeon making an incision (about 2-inches wide) on your wrist. The surgeon will then find the carpal ligament and cut it. Cutting the carpal ligament releases pressure on the median nerve, which will allow the nerve to pass freely through the carpal tunnel without being squeezed. 

The surgery itself usually takes about 15 minutes but with surgery prep and anesthesia, expect to be in the surgery room for at least 45 minutes. After the surgery, the surgeon will stitch up your wound and cover it with a bandage. The success rate of carpal tunnel surgery is high, at 90%. How well the surgery works for you will depend on how early you began treating your carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Those who started treatment early will likely experience a full recovery. For those who sought treatment later, it’s possible irreversible nerve damage has already occurred.


How Long Does It Take To Recover From Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

Recovery from carpal tunnel surgery varies. Immediately afterwards, you should expect to feel pain, stiffness, swelling, and numbness. Some of these symptoms will go away or lessen after a few days but it could take several months. After 1-2 weeks your doctor will take out your stitches. It can take up to 3-4 months to recover fully from your surgery but up to a year to regain normal strength. But how much hand strength you recover will vary. 


How Can You Recover Faster from Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

Limit Activity

After surgery, your body will need plenty of rest to repair itself fully. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep and resting when you need to. Refrain from lifting anything heavy or doing repetitive motions like typing, vacuuming, or chopping food for the first two weeks. Don’t drive until you are fully able to use your hand. 


Take Care of Your Incision Wound

Proper wound care will ensure your incision wound does not become infected and cause more serious problems. Keep your bandage clean and dry and change when necessary or when as directed by your doctor. If you have a splint, keep that dry too and try not to put it on too tight. Cover your bandage or splint with plastic while you bathe and don’t submerge your wound into water until fully healed. 



You should be able to resume your normal diet. If you are having upset stomach issues, stick to bland foods like rice or toast. However, aim to eat a healthy balanced diet to get plenty of nutrients your body needs to repair itself. 


Take Supplements

Dietary supplements can be helpful post-surgery to ensure you are getting adequate levels of nutrients. Your body needs key vitamins and minerals to properly heal. Without these nutrients, recovery will take longer. 

Try a multi-nutrient supplement like WoundVite to get all of your nutritional needs.* WoundVite is formulated to support wound healing using only natural ingredients like vitamins, minerals, and herbs.* It may aid in your recovery and possibly reduce scarring.*


Ice and Elevation

During the first 3 days after surgery (or until the swelling goes down) ice your wrist every 2-3 hours for at least 10 minutes at a time. Icing will help with swelling and inflammation. You should also be keeping your wrist elevated when you are lying or sitting down. Prop your wrist up on a few pillows to get it above your heart. 


You may be instructed to work with a doctor or physical therapist to rehabilitate your wrist. Rehabilitation involves doing a series of movements and stretches with your wrist. Doing these exercises will help you regain strength and flexibility in your wrist. Follow your doctor's or therapist's exercise instructions exactly for best results. 

The Takeaway

Carpal tunnel surgery may be necessary if you are experiencing symptoms that interfere with your everyday life. Generally, carpal tunnel surgery has a high success rate though recovery may be a lengthy process. However, proper wound care and a vigilant post-surgery recovery plan may help you heal faster and improve your surgery success rate. 

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.