Carpal Tunnel Surgery Rehab

After carpal tunnel surgery, your hand and wrist will be swollen, weak and stiff. Carpal tunnel surgery rehabilitation can help you heal more quickly and achieve optimal functioning. However, recommendation for rehab will depend on the severity of damage before surgery and the condition of the hand after surgery. When surgery is indicated for both hands, carpal tunnel rehab is highly recommended to speed the recovery of the first hand before performing surgery on the second hand.

Phase One

Your therapist will begin with soft tissue massage and ice to combat swelling. Because there may still be stitches in the wound, exercises will focus on improving range of motion in the fingers and hand. In this initial stage of rehabilitation, exercises include bending the fingers, opening and closing the hand and, eventually, slowly rotating the wrist. Assisted stretches are also used to increase flexibility.

Phase Two

Actual carpal tunnel surgery therapy may begin within a few days after surgery while the arm is still wrapped in a soft cast. Rehabilitation sessions may be two or three times a week for about four to six weeks. Therapy uses a combination of ice, massage, assisted stretching and strength-building exercises throughout the course of rehab. Heat, ultrasound, paraffin wax and electrical stimulation may also be used.

Advanced Carpal Tunnel Surgery Rehab

As rehabilitation progresses, exercises are used to strengthen the hand to stabilize muscles and joints. You may begin to squeeze and stretch special putty. At this point, rehab may include wrist curls while holding a one- to two-pound weight, and movements that promote fine motor control. The goal is to prepare you to return to work and other activities.

Because certain occupational and recreational use can sometimes cause or aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome, therapists will show you a variety techniques to avoid future problems.