North Hampshire Hospital
The Hampshire Clinic
Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK

Mr John Britton FRCS
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Information for patients undergoing orthopaedic treatment


Advice on
Carpal Tunnel Release

Before embarking on carpal tunnel release you should be aware of the following facts. If you have any other questions you should ask your surgeon for further information.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by pain, tingling and numbness in the hand, particularly at night. In advanced cases there may also be weakness of the hand muscles. Surgery to release the median nerve results in:

  • Relief from pain and tingling in the vast majority of cases
  • Gradual improvement in numbness. If preoperative numbness is severe recovery may not be full
  • Little improvement in strength


  • InfectionAll surgery carries a small risk of infection; the risk is small in carpal tunnel release

  • Scar pain:  Scar pain is normal following surgery, but normally resolves after a few weeks. In rare cases pain may be persistent

  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy:  Extremely rarely a condition known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) may develop after surgery; the hand becomes very swollen, painful and stiff. Treatment involves physiotherapy and occasionally injections into the arm. Full recovery from this condition may take may months.

  • Failure to relieve symptoms: Symptoms, particularly severe numbness and weakness, are not always relieved

Surgery details

  • Surgery will be done under local anaesthetic and takes about 10 minutes.

  • You will be discharged home shortly after surgery. You MUST NOT drive

  • You will have a dressing on your hand for about 1 week

  • Your stitches will be removed after about 1 week


  • Mild pain is normal for several days following surgery and you may need to take a painkiller such as paracetamol

  • You should keep your hand dry until the stitches are removed

  • You may use the hand as much as you find comfortable

  • You will not be able to do heavy lifting / gardening for about 6 weeks because of pain from the scar

  • You may return to work as soon as you feel able; office work is often possible within a week of surgery, but heavy manual work should be delayed for about 6 weeks

  • You may drive as soon as you can comfortably hold a steering wheel / gear stick; this is normally within 1 to 2 weeks of surgery

  • A follow up appointment will be arranged to monitor your recovery


For further information please see

John Britton FRCS
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

J M Britton 2007

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