HF 4568

Home Care After Carpal Tunnel Release

Date of Surgery_________________

This handout will go over the care you need to follow after carpal tunnel release. Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions.

4568 CarpalTunnel

Going Home

Rest and relax the first day. Getting enough sleep will help you recover. You will need to use your other hand more. Check your fingertips every 4-6 hours the first couple days. They should feel warm and the color should be your normal skin color. After the first couple of days, look at your fingers twice a day. After the first couple of days resume your usual routines slowly.

Ask your doctor when you can return to work. This may differ for each person as it is dependent upon the work you perform.

Avoid smoking, tobacco products and secondhand smoke.


  • No lifting, pushing, or pulling more than a few pounds (such as a cell phone) with your surgical hand until you are seen at your first post operative visit

  • Light activity such as: buttons, zippers, using utensils, phone, typing, writing, light cooking, right after surgery is okay.

  • No driving while on narcotic pain medicine and until you can fully use your hand.


Move your fingers regularly for the first 2 weeks after surgery. Working on finger range of motion will help reduce swelling and finger stiffness. This will not hurt the incision.

Dressing Care

You will have a bulky dressing or splint. Do not remove the dressing or splint unless directed to by your surgeon. Each surgeon will have their own after care guidelines.

Cover the dressing or splint with a plastic bag and seal the edges with tape when you shower. Do not take a bath or submerge in water until the incision heals, or until your doctor tells you it is okay. If you accidentally get the dressing and/or splint wet, call your doctor.

Wear loose fitting clothes that are easy to get your bandage through.

Pain Control

Take any prescribed pain medicine as directed. Narcotics are not often prescribed for this procedure, typically over the counter pain medicine will work. You may take
Tylenol up to 3000 mg in 24 hours or ibuprofen up to 2400 mg in 24 hours. If you have trouble controlling pain please contact the clinic directly to discuss.

Ice and Elevate

Use a cold pack on your wrist for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Keep your wrist raised on several pillows so your arm is above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.


Eat a light meal the first night you are home. Then, you may resume your normal eating habits. Drink two (8-ounce) glasses of fluid your first night home. No alcohol for 48 hours or until you stop taking pain medicine.


You will return to clinic in 1-2 weeks for the first post operative visit. If appropriate your dressing and sutures will be removed at this time. This visit is to check how you are healing after surgery.

When to Call

  • Increased swelling or numbness not improved by elevating the hand and moving the fingers (Numbness and tingling that occurred before surgery
    may still be present. Nerves heal slowly at about 1 inch per month)

  • Bleeding

  • Cool fingertips

  • A color change in your hand or fingers (Please note bruising can occur for some people after this procedure)

  • Your splint is too tight, too loose, broken, or wet

  • Signs of infection in the incision:

    • Warmth and/or redness

    • Cloudy, pus-like drainage

    • Fever over 100.5º F or 38.1° C for two reading taken 4 hours apart

Who to Call

Orthopedic Clinic
(608) 263-7540

East Madison Hospital
(608) 263-0393

One South Park
(608) 287-2700

Toll-free number is 1-800-323-8942

After hours and weekends: You will reach the hospital paging operator. Ask for the orthopedic resident on-call. Leave your name and phone number with area code. The doctor will call you back.

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.