Home Care after Carpal Tunnel Release
Carpal tunnel release is a surgery that divides a ligament at your wrist. This opens the carpal tunnel to relieve pressure on the nerve running through the tunnel.
- Rest and relax the first day. Use your other hand and arm more.
- Keep your arm raised on a few pillows so your arm is above the level of your heart. For Dr. Rao’s Patients: Use the sling to hold your arm up when you are not raising it with pillows.
- Take the pain medicine ordered for you.
Check your Fingers
Look at your fingers twice a day. Check for swelling, numbness, tingling, or a change in color or temperature. If you have increased swelling, numbness, a color or temperature change, call your doctor. Feel your fingertips every 4-6 hours the first couple of days for warmth and look at their color. The fingers should feel warm and the color should be your normal skin color.
Take your Temperature
Take your temperature if you feel warm. Call your doctor if it is greater than 101° F.
Talk with your doctor about how long you will have your ace wrap, splint, or cast on. Many people have an ace wrap on for 2 weeks. If you have a cast, expect it to be on for about 2 weeks. Cover the ace wrap, splint or cast with a plastic bag while you take a shower.
- Do not drive or do things that require coordination for 48 hours or until you stop taking prescription pain pills. They can interfere with good judgement.
- Slowly resume your normal routine over the first couple of days.
- Ask your doctor about going back to work. It is common to be off work for 2 weeks and on light duty for 4 weeks.
Eating & Drinking
- Drink two 8-ounce glasses of fluid your first evening home.
- Eat a light meal the first night you are home. Then resume your normal diet.
- Do not drink any beer, wine, or liquor for 48 hours or until you stop taking pain pills. Alcohol does not mix well with pain pills and may make you sick.
- At your clinic visits you will have the splint removed and replaced as needed or given an elastic wrap. You will be taught how to wrap your wrist in an ace wrap for support or will be given an elastic wrist support to wear for the next 1-2 weeks for comfort. If you have an ace wrap, it should be rewrapped twice a day.
- After the plaster splint is removed, you can slowly increase the use of your hand. Increase using your hand as you are able.
When to Call the Doctor
- Excess swelling
- Increased numbness
- Cool fingertips
- A color change in your hand or fingers
- Your splint is too tight, too loose, or broken
- Signs of infection in the incision
- warmth and/or redness
- Cloudy, pus-like drainage
- excessive swelling
- Fever - temperature above 101° F
Call the Surgery Clinic at (608) 263-7502, Monday-Friday,8:00-5:00pm.
After hours and weekends, the clinic number is answered by the paging operator. Ask for the Plastic Surgery resident on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live outside the area, call toll-free at 1-800-323-8942.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/27/2011
Copyright © 07/27/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4568
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