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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where there is increased pressure on the nerve that crosses the front of your wrist (the median nerve).

How does carpal tunnel syndrome happen?

The median nerve runs across the front of your wrist through a tight tunnel, together with the tendons that bend your fingers. If the tunnel becomes too tight this can cause pressure on the nerve, usually resulting in pain or numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers. The symptoms are often worse at night.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in women than men and is associated with arthritis, pregnancy, wrist fractures, diabetes or thyroid problems. However, for most sufferers there is no particular cause.

What are the benefits of surgery?

The main benefit of surgery is to relieve pain and numbness in your hand.

What does the surgery involve?

You should remove any rings from your hand before you come into hospital. A carpal tunnel release can usually be performed under local anaesthetic and usually takes about a quarter of an hour. Your surgeon will make a small cut in the palm of your hand. They will then cut the tight ligament (called the flexor retinaculum) that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel. This stops the nerve being compressed.

At the end of the operation, your surgeon will close the skin with stitches.

What should I do about my medication?

You should continue your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.

Let your surgeon know if you are on warfarin, clopidogrel, aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs, as these are more likely to cause you to bleed after your operation. Follow your surgeon’s advice about stopping this medication before the operation.

What is the recovery time?

After the operation you will probably be able to go home. A responsible adult should take you home in a car or taxi, and stay with you for at least 24 hours. You will have a bandage on your hand and will need support for a few days.

You should keep your hand lifted up and bandaged for the first couple of days. It’s important to gently exercise your fingers, elbow and shoulder to prevent stiffness. After the first couple of days the dressing can be reduced but you should keep the wound clean and dry until any stitches are removed.

If you are worried about anything once you are at home, contact a member of the healthcare team on the phone number they give you. They should be able to reassure you or arrange for you to have a check-up.


For further information on any surgical procedures or
to book a consultation, please contact us at:

Fitzwilliam Clinic, 70-72 Lisburn Road, Belfast
Tel: 028 9032 3888