Patient Education: Carpal Tunnel Release

Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery Overview
Orthopaedic Specialists 502-212-2663
Stacie Grossfeld, M.D. / Bess Fley, PA-C

Carpal Tunnel Release surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure.

Upon arrival at the surgicenter you will first meet with the registration person to check you in. You will then be brought back to the pre-op area and meet with your nursing team.


The next person you will meet is the anesthesia doctor. At this time the anesthesiologist will discuss the process and address any questions or concerns you have about the anesthesia.

You will go to the operating room where the surgery is performed. The anesthesiologist will then administer a brief general anesthesia, so you are completely asleep for the procedure. Because it is a general anesthesia, you will not hear or see anything going on in the operating room

Surgical Procedure

Dr. Grossfeld will then perform the carpal tunnel release. This procedure takes between 15-30 minutes. Keep in mind after you head back to the operating room it takes about 30-40 minutes to go to sleep and get positioned on the operating room bed, so your family may not see you for 1 to 2 hours.

Dr. Grossfeld will make an incision over the area where the carpal tunnel is located. She will release the tight tissue that is pressing on the median nerve causing the numbness/tingling and pain. The incision is closed with 2 layers of sutures. The deep layer is closed with a suture layer that is dissolvable. The skin layer will be closed with a suture that will be removed at the first post operative visit.

Dr. Grossfeld will inject a long-acting numbing medication into the surgical site, which will last for 6-8 hours.

Upon leaving the operating room, you will have 4 x 4 gauze placed over the incision sites followed by ABD pads, which are a larger fluffy dressing, followed by cast padding. A plaster splint will then be applied so you are unable to bend your wrist. At your first post operative visit the splint will be removed and you will be placed into a simple wrist brace.

An overview of Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery with Dr. Grossfeld. A step-by-step guide on carpal tunnel release surgery with Dr. Grossfeld.

Night of Surgery

It is very important that you stay on top of the pain.

She recommends that you set your alarm clock and take your pain medication every 6 hours for the first 24 hours to stay on top of your pain. Adding 800 mg Motrin every 6 hours or Meloxicam 15 mg every 24 hours can help control pain. Do not use either Motrin or Meloxicam if you are on blood thinners or have a history of stomach ulcers or kidney disease.

First Post-Operative Visit

Your first post operative visit will be 14- 18 days post-surgery. You will be seen in the office at that time and have the sutures removed. Dr Grossfeld or Bess Fley, PA-C will answer any other questions.

Physical Therapy

PT may be ordered based on swelling, range of motion and strength.


Most people will start driving once they are off all pain medication. Driving could be within a couple days if you feel comfortable driving a vehicle with one hand. Full use of the hand is typically with 2 weeks.

Return to Work

If you work a labor type job, you will most likely not return back to that job until you are released 100%. This could be 2-3 months depending on your job description.
If your employer has light duty options, you will most likely be released anywhere between one to two weeks back to light duty, and typically light duty will not require the use of the surgical side/the side your surgery is performed on, except for simple tasks such as using a computer or answering a phone.

If you have an office type job, you can most likely get back to work between one to four weeks. Return to work also depended on pain level and job description. Most people have very little pain after this surgery but some have more. Pain is very personal and different from person to person.

FMLA and Disability Paperwork

Our office offers the service of completing paperwork for FMLA and/or disability for a fee of $40, per set of paperwork, and is completed in the order that it is received, typically takes 7-10 business days. All requests must originate with your employer, as your eligibility for FMLA and/or disability is based on your benefits with your employer. While each patient is unique, we do our best to estimate the time of recovery and often times over-estimate the amount of time to prevent a lapse in benefits and/or require additional paperwork. Often times disability companies require updates after each appointment. It is the patient’s responsibility to communicate this request with the office. Updates are not automatically completed. Any questions regarding this can be directed to Dorothy.