If you have carpal tunnel syndrome and planning on having the traditional, “open” surgical technique, you’ll be required to wear thick bandages that cover the carpal area of your hand for up to a few weeks following surgery.

The carpal area of the hand encompasses the wrist all the way up to the knuckles.

Your fingers will be free to move and bend, but the palmar and back of your hand will be bound in a thick wrapping of bandages.

My mother had carpal tunnel syndrome release surgery, the open technique, on both hands at the same time, and wearing the heavy bandages was no picnic.

She wondered why the wrappings had to be so constricting for such a seemingly small incision.

The purpose of the thick bandages following carpal tunnel surgery was to provide immobilization to the wrist.

Post-surgical swelling is another reason for the layers of bandages, since carpal tunnel release involves the cutting of a band of tissue that goes across the median nerve.

After 10 days, my mother had the bandages removed. They were cut away with a pair of shears by the surgeon’s nurse, and revealed incisions, with stitches, that appeared to be about an inch and a fourth in length.

The nurse then removed the stitches; a painless procedure. At that point, my mother was good to go, with no restrictions with the use of her hands as far as getting them wet.

When the bandages were on, she was instructed not to get any water on the wrappings.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • tingling, numbness and/or weakness in all the fingers except the pink
  • reduced grip strength of the hand
  • reduced pincer strength of the fingers
  • inability to make a complete fist
  • aches or pains in the hand; pain upon flexing the wrist (bending the palm so that it’s closer to the underside of the forearm)
  • and pain upon tapping the area of the palm just above the wrist.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can also include pain in the forearms and even shoulder, even though the compression site of the median nerve is at the wrist.

This nerve goes all the way up the arm, into the shoulder and runs into the spinal cord at the neck, and the entire nerve can become irritated.

If you decide to have carpal tunnel “open” surgery, expect to wear thick bandages for 10-14 days afterwards.

There is another type of surgery for this nerve entrapment disorder that eliminates the need for bandages afterwards: stitchless endoscopic carpal tunnel release.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 
Top image: Shutterstock/Angkana Sae-Yang