For most, carpal tunnel surgery time is minimal: within a few weeks, you’ll be able to get back to using your hand as normal. However, regaining 100% of the strength in your hand may take anywhere from 6-12 months.
A successful outcome depends on a variety of factors, including your age, overall health, and the severity of your carpal tunnel. But a successful result also depends on how well you follow recovery instructions. And that’s why knowing more about carpal tunnel surgery recovery time can help.
How Long Does Carpal Tunnel Surgery Recovery Take?
One of the first questions most patients will ask is: how long is recovery from carpal tunnel surgery?
Generally, the duration of your surgical recovery will vary based on the severity of your disease and the surgical methods employed for treatment. Some carpal tunnel surgery techniques use an endoscope for a minimally invasive approach. In other cases, a wider scope of work may need to be done to generate positive results. For patients, this means a longer incision and a more substantial recovery period.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery Timeline
When patients ask about carpal tunnel surgery recovery time, they typically want a rough idea of how long the healing process will take. This is understandable. Patients want to plan when they can return to work and get back to daily activities.
Your recovery process will be unique, and your provider will give you individualized post-op instructions. However, for most patients, the following timeline can give you a rough baseline for your expectations.
- Weeks 1-2: You’ll be directed to wear surgical bandages for the first couple of weeks of your recovery. Sometime around the end of the first week (but before the end of the second week), you’ll schedule a follow-up appointment with your surgeon to remove stitches and bandages. You may also be referred to a physical therapist. During your surgical recovery, physical therapy will help you work on improving your strength and mobility as quickly as possible.
- Weeks 3-4: During the third and fourth weeks, you’ll be able to gradually resume some activities with your affected hand. Additionally, postoperative pain and discomfort in the hand should begin to subside by this point.
- Week 4: By the end of the fourth week, you should fully regain all mobility of your fingers (especially if you’ve been working with a physical therapist).
- Weeks 6-8: Once you hit the 6-8 week milestone, you should begin feeling pretty comfortable going back to just about all of your activities. You may still have some mild soreness or sensitivity to touch, but most patients will find this to be quite manageable. At this point, your surgeon will likely clear you for vigorous activity, including sports and athletics.
- 6 months – 1 year: After two months or so, your hand will mostly be back to normal. However, you may notice some lingering lack of grip strength. For many patients, it can take 6-12 months to fully recover 100% of their hand strength. This final bit of recovery tends to happen on the margins, so how much you may or may not notice will vary on an individual basis.
When Can I Return to Work After Carpal Tunnel Surgery?
Many patients are concerned about how long carpal tunnel surgery may keep them out of work. The answer depends on what you do for a living. Your physician will likely recommend that you avoid strenuous or repetitive motion with your hand for 6-8 weeks. This may impact your ability to perform certain tasks, such as typing. You may be able to work with your job on a workaround (talk-to-type, for example).
If missing work is a concern, talk to your physician about the best surgical approach for treating your carpal tunnel.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery Depends on You
Carpal tunnel surgery will diminish pressure on the median nerve, alleviating symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. This means less pain, minimized numbness, and improved mobility. Most patients will be able to return to the activities they knew before: you’ll be able to type on a computer, go fishing on the lake, or knit that sweater you’ve been waiting to finish.
A successful outcome for carpal tunnel surgery depends on several factors. But one of the most important factors is how closely you follow your post-operative instructions.
The surgical teams at Yankton Medical Clinic will walk you through the carpal tunnel surgery recovery process, so you’ll know exactly what to expect after your surgery.
If carpal tunnel syndrome is causing you pain or discomfort, contact Yankton Medical Clinic to help determine if carpal tunnel surgery is the best way to find relief–and how long it will take you to recover. Call at us 605-665-1722 to schedule an appointment with Certified Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Brent Adams and Certified Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Jeremy Kudera.