Carpal Tunnel Release
This handout will go over the care you need
to follow once you are home. If you have
any questions or concerns, please ask your
medical provider or their staff. Our staff is
here to help you. If you have questions after
you are at home, please call the numbers
listed at the end of this handout.
ξ Rest and relax the first day. Getting
enough sleep will help you recover.
ξ Keep your arm elevated on several
pillows so your arm is above the
level of your heart.
ξ Do not lift anything with your
surgical hand for 2 weeks.
o This includes doing repeated
arm or hand movements such
as typing or using a computer
o Do not use power tools, and
avoid activities that cause
o You will need to use your
other hand and arm more.
ξ You may move your fingers.
ξ Check your fingertips every 4-6
hours the first couple days.
o The fingers should feel warm
and the color should be your
normal skin color.
ξ After the first couple of days, look at
your fingers twice a day.
ξ If you have increased swelling,
numbness, tingling, a color or
temperature change, call your
ξ After the first couple of days resume
your usual routines slowly.
ξ You will have a bulky dressing or
splint Do Not remove the dressing or
splint unless you are told to by your
medical provider or their staff
ξ Many people have a dressing on for
ξ Cover the dressing or splint with a
plastic bag and seal the edges with
tape when you shower.
ξ Do not take a bath until the incision
heals, or until your doctor tells you it
ξ If you accidentally get the splint wet,
call your doctor.
ξ Wear loose fitting clothes that are
easy to get your bandage through.
ξ If the doctor gave you a prescription
medicine for pain, take it as
ξ If you need a refill of a prescription
pain medicine please call the clinic
3-4 business days prior to needing
ξ You may need to come to the clinic
to pick up a paper prescription for
your pain medicine
ξ You may take Tylenol up to 3000
mg in 24 hours or Ibuprofen up to
2400 mg in 24
Ice and elevation
ξ Put ice or a cold pack on your wrist
for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to
do this every 1 to 2 hours for the
next 3 days (when you are awake) or
until the swelling goes down. Put a
thin cloth between the ice and your
ξ Prop up the surgical wrist on a
pillow when you ice it or anytime
you sit or lie down during the next 3
days. Try to keep it above the level
of your heart. This will help reduce
Return to work
ξ Discuss with your doctor when you
will be able to return to work.
ξ It is common to be off work for 2
weeks and light duty for 4 weeks.
ξ Do not drive while you are taking
narcotic pain medicine.
ξ You may drive when you are fully
able to use your hand.
ξ Take your temperature daily for a
ξ Call your doctor if your temperature
is greater than 100.5 F or 38.1° C for
2 readings taken 4 hours apart.
ξ We strongly suggest you quit
smoking, avoid tobacco products,
and second hand smoke.
Eating & Drinking
ξ Eat a light meal the first night you
are home. Then, you may resume
your normal eating habits.
ξ Drink two (8-ounce) glasses of fluid
your first evening home.
ξ Do not drink any alcohol for 48
hours or until you stop taking pain
o It does not mix well with pain
medicines and may make you
ξ You will return to clinic in 1-2
weeks to have your dressing and
your stitches removed and you may
be placed in a short arm cast.
o You will return to clinic 2-3
weeks later for cast removal.
ξ After the cast is removed, you can
slowly increase the use of your hand
as you are able.
When to Call the Doctor
ξ Excess swelling or increased
numbness not made better by
elevating the hand and moving the
ξ Cool fingertips.
ξ A color change in your hand or
ξ Signs of infection in the incision.
o Warmth and/or redness.
o Cloudy, pus-like drainage.
o Excessive swelling.
o Fever-temperature above
100.5º F or 38.1° C for two
reading taken 4 hours apart
ξ Your splint is too tight, too loose,
broken, or wet.
If you have questions or concerns, please
Orthopedic Clinic (608) 263-7540
Research Park (608) 265-3207
The American Center (608) 440-6242
If you live out of the area, call
After hours and weekends: Call the above
phone numbers. This will give you the
hospital paging operator.
Ask for the orthopedic resident on-call.
Leave your name and phone number. The
doctor will call you back.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 5/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4568