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Carpal Tunnel Release

General Information

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that creates weakness and pain in the wrist, hands or fingers. The carpal tunnel is a literal tunnel or passageway extending from the base of the palm at the wrist joint and into the wrist. The carpal tunnel protects tendons, ligaments and nerves in the hand.

Reasons for Carpal Tunnel Release

  • Relieve pain
  • Restore strength and function in the fingers, hand and wrist
  • Reduce tingling or numbness in the fingers and hand


Prior to a carpal tunnel release surgery, your doctor may perform a variety of tests, includuing:

  • Physical examination
  • Nerve conduction study
  • Electromyogram


Carpal tunnel release surgery is also called open release surgery. The procedure involves severing the transverse carpal tunnel ligament. This helps relieve pressure on the nerve that extends from the palm of the hand down through the wrist. To perform the surgery in the open surgical method, your doctor will:

  • Make a 2 inch long incision is made on the palm
  • Exposing the ligament
  • Sever the ligament
  • Close the incision with sutures
  • Wrap the hand

For an endoscopic approach, your doctor will:

  • Make two small (usually about 1/2-in. in length) in the wrist and the palm
  • Insert an endoscope into one incision
  • Insert another instrument into the second incision with which to sever the carpal ligament
  • Close the incision with one to two sutures
  • Wrap the hand

What to Expect

In most cases, you will receive a local anesthetic, meaning just your hand and perhaps a portion of your forearm will be anesthetized. The procedure is done in about 30 minutes or less. The severed ligament will heal and its ends will join again. The goal of the procedure is to create more space for the nerve while and after the ligament heals. You will be encouraged to use and strengthen your hand as soon as possible following initial healing of the ligament.