Many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be managed with non-surgical therapies like wearing a splint and performing stretches. However, if you have been struggling to keep your pain under control with these measures alone, your orthopedic doctor may be recommending surgery. Here's what you can expect from that procedure.

An open procedure

Although many orthopedic surgeries are now done arthroscopically, carpal tunnel surgery is a bit of an exception. The surgery is often performed through an open incision since the incision that is needed is not too large, anyways. The incision is typically made from the base of the palm down to the mid-wrist. It will be about two or three inches long and will be secured with stitches. 

Outpatient surgery

Most patients do not need to stay overnight in the hospital after carpal tunnel surgery. The procedure will be performed under a local anesthetic, meaning your arm and hand will be numb, but you'll remain awake. Since you don't need to come out of general anesthesia after the procedure, your surgeon will typically let you return home, with help from a friend or family member, after an hour or two of observation.

Simple recovery

In carpal tunnel surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will typically cut the transverse ligament that runs through your wrist, which takes pressure off the nerve in this area. This is quite minor compared to a lot of other orthopedic surgeries, so the recovery is not very long or painful. You will probably be prescribed an NSAID pain reliever to take for a few days after surgery, and you won't be able to use your hand for a couple of weeks. It will be about three months before you're able to return to most activities that really require the use of your wrist.

Good results

Carpal tunnel surgery has a very high success rate. Most patients are completely free from the pain, stiffness, and numbness they were previously experiencing once they heal from surgery. Initially, you may feel like your thumb and palm are a little weak as a result of the ligament having been cut, but you should regain functionality in these areas as you continue to exercise and stretch your hand.

Now that you know a little more about carpal tunnel surgery, you can prepare for your procedure with confidence. Talk to your orthopedic surgeon if you have any remaining worries or questions regarding a carpal tunnel or any other orthopedic operation.