Recovery time
from carpal tunnel surgery

Regarding information about recovery time from carpal tunnel surgery, the internet can be a great thing, but sometimes certain Patient Forums can be misleading and discouraging. It may seem that a lot of people are having bad outcomes when it comes to carpal tunnel surgery and/or the recovery time from carpal tunnel surgery.

When in fact, the Majority of cases do well. Studies typically report 88%-95% success rate for carpal tunnel surgery outcomes. Keep in mind that carpal tunnel surgery is performed well over 200,000 times a year!

Perhaps the relatively few patients that are not having good outcomes are the ones posting on the forums....and you can't blame them I guess, after all they may be hurting or still having symptoms they didn't expect, and they are just looking for answers. And as we have talked about on this site, everybody's individual case of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is different, so their recovery time from carpal tunnel surgery may be different than the next.

Like the old adage says you may be comparing Apples to Oranges!!

In fact I have had the same patient have different recovery times from their carpal tunnel surgeries. His right hand recovered much faster, about 6-7 weeks, but his left hand took over 3 months.

So, with all that in mind, I do want to give you some general guidelines regarding your recovery time from carpal tunnel surgery.

After your surgery you will be moved to a RECOVERY ROOM. Initially you will have some expected pain and swelling around the palm and wrist. It will feel tight and stiff. This is where icing the area will help.

For comfortable, no mess Ice Wraps. If you're on a budget, ice in a ziplock bag wrapped in a thin wash cloth will work. Ice the wrist about 3 or 4 times a day.
Some orthopedists feel your recovery time from carpal tunnel surgery can be aided at night by using soft comfortable Night Splints to sleep in, this type of splint can help you keep your wrist from bending too much and also help protect the incision area from getting bumped around.

If you have to return to work or use a computer, there are many
OFFICE ERGONOMIC PRODUCTS available that may help you recover faster and easier after your carpal tunnel surgery.

In general, it usually takes the average patient about 6-12 weeks to "recover". Sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. I have had office manager types come back in at 3 or 4 days, with restrictions. However, if the patient is a day laborer, or someone who does a lot of manual work, lifting heavy material or an assembly line worker using large power tools, or jack hammers, he may not be able to return for a couple of months if not longer. It just depends on the employers policy regarding CTS and Work Restrictions.

At first, right after your surgery, you will have some type of padded bandaging after your carpal tunnel surgery. This helps protect the incision area from bumping it on something, but also helps in reducing the swelling around the palm and wrsit area. Your discharge instructions should have more details specific to your case about when your follow up will be etc...
The term "recover" is kind of subjective anyway...I think what most people mean by that is "when can I do most of the things I did before without having carpal tunnel symptoms". Well, it really kind of depends on what you were doing before. If someone wasn't that active before, they may get back to "their normal" activities quicker than say someone who was more active. For an extreme a couch potato to a mountain climber!..I think you see my point though!

Many hand surgeons feel it may take up to 1 year before the patient is at maximum improvemnet. (In other words, that's as good as you're going to get). It all goes back to everybody's case is going to be a little different depending on all the variable we have discussed on this site.
See Carpal tunnel Causes
ONE THING YOU SHOULD SEE is a clear progression every week or so. You should be a little less sore, a little less stiff, have less pain etc...There are factors that may be delaying your recovery time from carpal tunnel surgery. However, EVERY WEEK should show some improvement. If it doesn't, tell your surgeon or his Physician Assistant. Hopefully, everything is okay, but you just need a little more time to heal.

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