Does carpal tunnel surgery take a long time to complete? Is there a position I can sleep in to prevent carpal tunnel?
Once you have had the anaesthetic and your hand is numb, it takes approximately 20 minutes to complete carpal tunnel surgery. You can sleep in any position you choose, but side sleeping is known to cause wrist compression, which is responsible for carpal tunnel. Sleep on your back or the opposite side of your problem hand.
Are you awake for carpal tunnel surgery?
If you do not elect to have general anaesthesia. It’s normal; for carpal tunnel surgery to be completed under local anaesthetic.
Pain management has advanced quickly over recent years, negating the need to use a general anaesthetic for this procedure.
However, if the thought of being awake while having surgery is worrisome to you, then you could elect to have the surgery done while you are anaesthetized with a general.
How long does carpal tunnel surgery take?
Approximately 20 minutes. The procedure is quick in terms of surgery, but you may be in the operation room for about 50 minutes.
When you arrive in the operating room, the local anaesthetic will be administered, and the assisting nurses will be ready for the procedure.
When your hand is numb, the surgeon will start the procedure.
How painful is it after carpal tunnel surgery?
It’s not really painful. You can expect to have some discomfort for a week, but with every day that passes, the symptoms will become less.
Your surgeon will have prescribed some painkillers to help with any twinges of pain you may feel from time to time.
If you do experience pain that is persistent over a few days, you will need to go and get your hand checked.
What will you need to do after carpal tunnel surgery?
Rest and let the recovery start. You will be recommended to do some things to help with the initial recovery period.
- It’s always a good idea to keep your hand raised above heart level to allow any swelling to drain, which will reduce finger stiffness
- Icing your hand will be beneficial, do not apply ice directly to your hand. Wrap the ice in a clean cloth and only ice for 20 minutes every hour. You may decide that icing is only needed a few times each day
- You will likely be told to wear a splint or wrist brace for several weeks after surgery for support. Of course, you can remove it as instructed by your doctor
- Depending on your job, you may be off work for some weeks while the healing process takes place, or you will need light duties at the very least
- Take your pain medications as prescribed
- If you experience weakness in your wrist or hand, you may be referred to a physiotherapist to rebuild the lost strength
What is the recovery process after carpal tunnel surgery?
Total recovery can take a long time. You may take more than a year to feel the full benefits of carpal tunnel surgery.
The recovery period is quite long, considering the procedure lasts for only 20 minutes.
Here are some recovery milestones you can expect postoperatively:
7 to 10 days after surgery:
The bandages will be removed, and the suitors will be removed. If your hand and wrist are stiff, you may start a course of gentle physiotherapy to help with hand movement.
14 to 28 days
Pain in the palm of the hand will have subsided, and you should be able to resume some remedial activities.
You should have regained some dexterity and motion in hand with the help of a physiotherapist, which will continue further.
6 to 8 weeks
You may be able to return to sporting activities and resume your normal working schedule. Its worth noting that you may still have pain in your palm that is made worse by deep pressure.
You should have fully recovered after twelve months and will be able to appreciate the results and benefits of the surgical procedure.
Best way to sleep after carpal tunnel surgery
After carpal tunnel surgery, it is important to keep your hand and wrist in a neutral position to allow for proper healing. The best way to sleep after carpal tunnel surgery will depend on your comfort level and the type of surgery you had. Here are a few tips that may help you sleep more comfortably:
- Use a wrist splint or brace: Wearing a splint or brace at night can help to keep your hand and wrist in a neutral position and prevent you from bending or flexing your wrist in your sleep.
- Sleep on your back: Sleeping on your back can help to reduce pressure on your hand and wrist and may be more comfortable than sleeping on your stomach or side.
- Use pillows to support your hand and wrist: You can use pillows to support your hand and wrist in a comfortable position while you sleep.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach: Sleeping on your stomach can put strain on your hand and wrist, so it is best to avoid this position after carpal tunnel surgery.
It is important to follow any specific instructions provided by your doctor or physical therapist regarding sleep positions and any other post-surgery care recommendations.
It is also a good idea to listen to your body and choose a position that feels comfortable and allows you to sleep soundly.
Do you wear a cast after carpal tunnel surgery?
Sometimes yes. If the surgeon does put a cast on your wrist and hand, you can expect it to be there for a few weeks post-surgery as an immobilizer.
When the cast comes off, you can expect 6 weeks of physiotherapy to enable you to regain the full motion and range of movement in your hand.
However, it is far more common to have a splint placed on your hand to restrict movement.
Also, you’ll find our article on the best carpal tunnel braces that work great for afterwards.
What pain meds are given after carpal tunnel surgery?
Hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab). These are not over the counter pain medications and will require a prescription.
The need for pain medication will diminish after a week or two. The further into the recovery, the less need for pain medications.
How many stitches do you get for carpal tunnel surgery?
It’s normal to get 12 sutures or stitches. Your surgeon will make an incision of about 2-3 inches in the palm of your hand, which will allow access to ligaments and wrist bones.
The surgeon releases the pressure points that help resolve the issues being experienced.
When can I take a shower after carpal tunnel surgery?
Maximum 48 hours. Your doctor should tell you to shower within the first 48 hours (it’s a day procedure, so no risk of anaesthesia problems). You just need to keep the bandages dry.
It’s important not to remove the bandages or splint when you shower. There are plenty of post-surgery covers available online with a neoprene seal that does not let water enter the dry area of the cover.
Is it worth getting carpal tunnel surgery?
Yes, symptoms can be debilitating. For most folks, carpal tunnel surgery is the only way to relieve severe pain in the hand.
However, surgery may only offer partial relief if the symptoms are caused by arthritis or other issues such as diabetes.