Results vs Risks ofcarpal tunnel surgery


Surgery for carpal tunnel release is usually successful, but your symptoms may recur.

Overall, the likelihood of recurrence of symptoms after carpal tunnel surgery ranges from 3% to 25%.

Open surgery is successful in 75% to 90% of people.

Keyhole surgery has similar rates of success to open surgery. Recovery time (in particular return to normal activities like work) is usually faster with keyhole compared to open surgery.


As with any medical procedure there are some potential risks. The chance of complications depends on the type of procedure you’re having and things like your general health and whether you smoke. Smoking increases the risks associated with surgery.

Poor results

Reasons some people don’t get a good result may include:

  • the original diagnosis was wrong
  • you had nerve damage before surgery
  • the ligament wasn’t properly released during surgery. This is less likely if an expert hand surgeon does the surgery
  • your carpal nerve was damaged during surgery
  • an underlying medical condition was, and still is, causing the problem.


Possible complications include:

  • injury to deep structures such as nerves
  • tenderness or numbness around the scar
  • bleeding
  • infection which may be superficial (such as in the skin) or deep
  • stitch abscess
  • delayed healing
  • scar tissue formation.

Ask your surgeon about the results and risks associated with your procedure. Also ask about their own rates of patient satisfaction and the rate of complications following the procedures they’ve performed.

Choosing a specialist

How to find a carpal tunnel surgeon


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.