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.

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. You may be off work for 2 weeks and light duty for 4 weeks.

Take your temperature daily for a week.

Avoid smoking, tobacco products and secondhand smoke.

4568 CarpalTunnel

Activity Guidelines

  • No lifting with your surgical hand for 2 weeks.

  • No repeated arm or hand actions like typing or using a computer mouse.

  • Do not use power tools and avoid activities that cause vibration.

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

Dressing Care
You will have a bulky dressing or splint. Do not remove the dressing or splint unless you are told to. Many people have a dressing on for 1-2 weeks.

Cover the dressing or splint with a plastic bag and seal the edges with tape when you shower. Do not take a bath until the incision heals, or until your doctor tells you it is okay. If you accidentally get the 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. For a refill, call the clinic 3-4 business days before you are out. You may need to come to the clinic to pick up a paper prescription. You may take Tylenol up to 3000 mg in 24 hours or ibuprofen up to 2400 mg in 24 hours.

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. They do not mix well and may make you sick.

You will return to clinic in 1-2 weeks to have your dressing and your stitches removed. You may be put in a short arm cast, that will be removed in 2-3weeks. After the cast is removed, slowly increase the use of your hand.

  • When to Call

  • Increased swelling or numbness not improved by elevating the hand and moving the fingers

  • Bleeding

  • Cool fingertips

  • A color change in your hand or fingers

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

  • Signs of infection in the incision:
    o Warmth and/or redness
    o Cloudy, pus-like drainage
    o 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.