Carpal tunnel Surgery

Using this guide What's covered

Here you’ll find answers to many of your questions about surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. Learn how it’s done, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.

To see how the surgery works, view our animation below.

For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for carpal tunnel surgery and learn how your choice of surgeon and hospital affect that cost.
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LEARN ABOUT CARPAL TUNNEL SURGERY

To see how the surgery works, view our animation.

The basics

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Running from your neck down your arm and into your hand is the median nerve, which controls feeling and movement in your thumb and the first 3 fingers of your hand. On its way to your fingers and thumb, your median nerve, and 9 tendons, pass through a small space in your wrist called the carpal tunnel.

Below the carpal tunnel are the small bones of your wrist and above is a thick ligament (the carpal ligament). If your median nerve gets squeezed between the bones and the carpal ligament, it can cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in your fingers.

What causes it?

Compression of your carpal tunnel nerve can be caused by swelling (especially of the flexor tendons) due to repetitive movements. Other causes include conditions that reduce blood flow to your hands like obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and diabetes.

A past injury to your wrist can also contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is carpal tunnel surgery?

Carpal tunnel surgery relieves the symptoms by cutting the ligament that’s pressing on the nerve. There are 2 ways of doing this:

  • Keyhole carpal tunnel release surgery – your surgeon makes 1 or 2 small incisions and uses a thin, flexible tube with a light on the tip to see the area, and then guide a scalpel to cut the ligament. This is also known as endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery.
  • Open carpal tunnel release surgery – your surgeon uses a larger incision to see the area directly and cut the ligament.

The details

CONSIDERING SURGERY

Alternatives to a carpal tunnel surgery

There may be alternatives, depending on your condition.

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Types of carpal tunnel surgery

There are different ways carpal tunnel surgery can be done.

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Results vs risks of carpal tunnel surgery

The benefits and potential complications of carpal tunnel surgery.

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Choosing a specialist

How to find an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in this procedure.

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PREPARATION

Questions for your specialist

What you should ask before going ahead with carpal tunnel surgery.

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Preparing for your procedure

Pre-operative tests and preparation.

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Your anaesthetic options

Anaesthesia and pain relief after surgery.

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YOUR PROCEDURE

Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of the surgery.

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Your procedure

What happens in the operating theatre.

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RECOVERY

After your procedure

Your hospital stay.

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Aftercare

Getting back to your normal routine and watching for problems.

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PATIENT EXPERIENCES

People who’ve had carpal tunnel surgery talk about their preparation, their procedure and their recovery.
 
View videos

Give us feedback

Did you find this guide helpful? Let us know what you liked or what we can do to improve it. We'd love to hear from you.

To provide feedback, email us at wellbeing@hcf.com.au.

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Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.