Surgery to release the carpal tunnel is an outpatient procedure meaning patients go home the same day as surgery. The recovery is not as lengthy as it used to be when the surgery was more invasive. Light use of the hands is permitted immediately after surgery. Washing the hand is often allowed within days after surgery. Splints may be used for comfort of the hand but are often not required.
If you have significant symptoms in both hands the surgery can be done on both at the same time or one at a time depending on your preference. The hands can be used for dressing, feeding, toileting and other light daily activities immediately after surgery.
Sutures are usually removed between one and two weeks after surgery. Once the incision is healed activities can be gradually advanced as tolerated.
The ligament that is cut gradually heals in a lengthened position allowing more room for the nerve. The nighttime numbness and tingling often improves almost immediately after surgery. If you had constant numbness in the fingers before surgery it can take months for that to recover. If you had lost muscle at the base of your thumb that often does not fully recover.
It is possible, but uncommon for carpal tunnel symptoms to come back after surgery.