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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where there is increased pressure on a nerve that crosses the front of your wrist (the median nerve).
The median nerve runs through a tight tunnel, together with the tendons that bend your fingers (see figure 1).
Carpal tunnel release surgery should give you relief from pain and numbness in your hand.
If your symptoms are mild, a wrist support worn at night often helps.
A steroid injection near the carpal tunnel can reduce the numbness or pain in most people.
The operation can usually be performed under a local anaesthetic and usually takes about 20 minutes.
Your surgeon will make a small cut on the palm of your hand. They will cut the tight ligament (called the flexor retinaculum) that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel. This stops the nerve being compressed.
You should be able to go home the same day. Keep your hand raised and bandaged for two days. It is important to gently exercise your fingers, elbow and shoulder to prevent stiffness.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
Your symptoms may continue to improve for up to six months.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes numbness in your thumb, index and middle fingers. A carpal tunnel release should improve your symptoms and prevent permanent nerve damage.
MD PhDLearn more
Author: Prof Tim Davis ChM FRCS (Tr. & Orth.)
Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com
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