Carpal Tunnel Surgery


For patients diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) Hand and Upper Extremity Service provides access to world-class physicians offering comprehensive treatment, including carpal tunnel surgery.

In addition to carpal tunnel surgery, physicians at the Hand and Upper Extremity Service provide treatment for the full spectrum of diseases and injuries affecting the hand, shoulder, arm, elbow, and wrist, including fractures, tumors, arthritis, impingement, and sports-related injuries.

Patients can also get expert treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome through the BWH Department of Plastic Surgery. Several BWH plastic surgeons also have expertise in hand-related reconstructive procedures, and for patients in need of carpal tunnel surgery, they work to improve both flexibility and functionality, while improving appearance, if possible.

What is carpal tunnel surgery?

Carpal tunnel surgery is a treatment option for carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition in which the median nerve that controls sensation and motor functions in the thumb and three middle fingers is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel, an opening from the wrist to the hand. Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome may experience weakness, pain, numbness, tingling, or a swollen feeling in the fingers.

Carpal tunnel surgery is typically recommended after trying non-surgical therapy options. The objective of carpal tunnel surgery is to relieve pressure on the median nerve by cutting the ligament that is pressing on it.

There are two different techniques for carpal tunnel surgery:

  • Endoscopic surgery. In this minimally invasive surgery, surgeons make two half-inch incisions in the hand or wrist and insert very small devices, including a camera, to see inside the carpal tunnel and to cut the ligament to relieve pressure. Endoscopic surgery usually results in less pain and faster recovery than open surgery.
  • Open surgery. In this traditional form of carpal tunnel surgery, the surgeon makes a longer incision along the palm of the hand over the carpal tunnel, and cuts through the ligament to free the nerve.

With either surgery, the tissues of the ligament will gradually grow back together while allowing more room for the median nerve.

Following the surgery, the hand and wrist are placed in a splint or heavy bandage for about a week, after which most patients will begin a physical therapy program. Recovery after carpal tunnel surgery can take anywhere from several days to several months.

Find a physician for carpal tunnel surgery at BWH.

Patients have several options for finding a surgeon for carpal tunnel surgery at BWH. Patients may call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to a patient referral coordinator or use the Find a Doctor tool on the website to find a doctor for Boston hand surgery and other orthopaedic procedures like knee replacement surgery. Patients may also seek reconstructive hand surgery from the Division of Plastic Surgery at BWH.

In addition to orthopaedic surgery and plastic surgery procedures, Brigham and Women's Hospital offers a number of other surgical services, including procedures such as a sleeve gastrectomy for weight loss, and services in specialties such as sports medicine, cardiology, and women's health. Learn more about each of these departments and services now.

Learn more about Carpal Tunnel Surgery and other Orthopaedic Treatments at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH