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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Before & after surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome

Before your operation you will be seen by your surgeon. Please ask them any questions and tell them if you have any concerns about your operation.

After the operation


Keep your hand dry when showering by putting it in a plastic bag and taping the top of the bag securely to your skin. You will get specific advice about your dressing, bandaging, stitches and so on after your operation.

Your discharge letter will include instructions about removing your bandage and your follow-up appointment.

Pain relief

Take two paracetamol (Panadol) every four to six hours. This is all most people need. If you need stronger pain relief, take one to two codeine 30 mg tablets as well. You can take codeine at the same time as you take paracetamol. But do not take more than eight paracetamol and eight codeine in any 24-hour period.

If you are a day patient you will be given a small supply of paracetamol and codeine when you go home. If you are an in-patient you will be given a prescription when you go home.

Exercise and activity

Your surgeon will check how well your hand is moving, and show you some exercises. They may refer you to a hand therapist (or physiotherapist) for more exercises, and to manage your scar.

It is important to gently open and close your fingers to help reduce swelling and stiffness. Start this as soon as you have had your surgery. You can use your hand for light tasks such as eating, dressing, or using a computer straight away. It will not do any harm.

After going home

If you are having day surgery you need to arrange for someone to drive you home. You will also need to have someone at home with you for the first 24 hours after surgery.

You may need some extra help after the operation. For example, you will not be able to put your full weight on your hand, and so will not be able to use a walking stick or walker with that hand for around two weeks.

If you've had operations on both hands you might struggle a bit with caring for yourself, so it's important to have someone around to care for you. Some activities, such as opening jars or gripping objects, might be difficult to manage for two to three days.

To reduce swelling and pain it is important to keep your hand raised (elevated) in the sling you are given, for two to five days. If you have had surgery on both hands you will not be given slings, but make sure you keep your hands raised. Try to keep the affected hand or hands higher than your heart.

You will need to avoid firm grasping or lifting for two to three weeks. You may be off work for two to four weeks, depending on your job. Some people can go back to work after one week, while others cannot do heavier work for eight weeks or more. Your surgeon will discuss this with you.

Pain will limit what you can do for around six weeks.


Seek help as soon as possible if you:

See your GP or after-hours GP or:

On the next page: Recovery after carpal tunnel surgery

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical directors, Plastic Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed April 2021.


Page reference: 110317

Review key: HICTS-12821