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Top Carpal Tunnel Surgery Recovery Tips

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01 Sep 2023

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a fairly common condition that can lead to discomfort, pain, and problems with daily activities. In more extreme cases, it can be necessary to get surgery to help combat this pain.

Understanding its origins, its impact, and employing effective carpal tunnel surgery recovery tips is really important for those suffering with discomfort.

Understanding Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel surgery recovery tips: asian woman holding her wrist seemingly in discomfort

Carpal tunnel syndrome arises from pressure on the nerve that travels from your forearm to your hand through a narrow passageway called the carpal tunnel. 

This tunnel consists of bones and a strong ligament, and it's responsible for protecting the nerve and the tendons that control finger movement. 

When this nerve becomes compressed due to inflammation or swelling, it leads to a range of uncomfortable symptoms.

Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel surgery recovery tips: woman pointing to the surgery scar on her wrist

Repetitive Motions

Engaging in repetitive motions, such as typing or using tools that involve gripping tightly, can strain the wrist and forearm muscles, causing inflammation and nerve compression.

Incorrect Wrist Positioning

Awkward wrist positions whilst typing or using a mouse can exacerbate pressure on the nerve. Similar repetitive actions can have the same consequences.

Medical Conditions

Conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even hormonal changes during pregnancy can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. There is also a greater risk following a wrist fracture or dislocation.

Fluid Retention

Fluid retention due to pregnancy or certain medications can also increase pressure and lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Surgery Recovery Tips

Carpal tunnel surgery recovery tips: black woman in PT, holding a weight while her therapist smiles in encouragement

If you have to undergo carpal tunnel surgery to relieve the pressure in your wrists, it’s very common to feel more pain immediately after surgery that will eventually disappear, this is why pre-surgery preparation is extremely important. 

Carpal tunnel surgery is considered a minor surgery, but that does not mean it won’t impact day-to-day life. You should prepare for your surgery ahead of time by making reasonable adjustments that take into account that you will not have the full strength of one hand for potentially a few weeks or even months after surgery. 

Common adjustments include one-handed bras, knorks (one handed knife and fork combination utensils), and even things like dressing aids to help you better maintain your independence while you recover. It’s important that the adjustments you make prevent excessive use of your operated hand.

Within the first couple of weeks, stitches can be removed and some movement will return, with total hand strength expected to be back to normal within the first year following surgery for most people. 

Although most will be able to return to work and those usual tasks that impact wrists and hands within a few weeks, it’s important to rest properly to allow yourself the best chance of a good recovery. For the first couple of weeks, avoid picking up anything of any weight with the operated hand and follow the instructions of your physical therapist or physician. Read 3 tips for physical therapy.

The recovery time is typically expected to be longer for operations carried out on your dominant hand because it will be used more strenuously when healed.

5 Ways To Avoid Carpal Tunnel Flare Ups

Beautiful mature woman with smiling smoulderingly at the camera while wearing the Springrose adaptive velcro bra and opening the Velcro front closure

1. Make Reasonable Adjustments

Adapting your daily routines is paramount, especially if they have caused you discomfort in the past. Consider using an adaptive bra with a Velcro closure, designed for easy fastening, to reduce daily strain on your hands and wrists and avoid aggravating the problem area.

2. Ergonomic Workstation

Create ergonomic workspaces that promote wrist alignment during activities like typing or crafting. Use wrist supports and adjustable furniture to maintain neutral wrist positions wherever you can.

3. Frequent Breaks

Integrate regular breaks into your day. Short pauses allow your wrists to rest and recover, preventing prolonged strain.

4. Wrist Exercises 

Gentle wrist exercises, as advised by a healthcare professional or physiotherapist, can enhance wrist flexibility and reduce tension.

5. Cold and Heat Therapy 

Apply ice packs to reduce inflammation, followed by heat therapy to relax muscles and improve blood circulation.

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