Carpal tunnel surgery is a routine procedure but one that requires patients to take special care of themselves afterward. The surgery helps improve wrist function and alleviates pain from repetitive wrists-driven activities such as writing or typing. We use our hands and wrists for nearly every task on a daily basis, so it’s important to be careful after this type of surgery.
Typically, carpal tunnel surgery will take a patient two weeks to fully recover, but they will be able to use their hand and wrist carefully within a few days of surgery. With proper care for the muscles and tendons, as well as proper wound dressing techniques, recovery from carpal tunnel surgery can be easy.
Here are a few tips and tricks for handling carpal tunnel surgery wound care and recovery:
Daily Activity After Surgery
After the procedure, patients should use their wrist and hand as sparingly as possible. Doctors recommend applying a towel-wrapped ice bag to the wrist for 20 minutes every hour for the first two days. After that, ice will only need to be applied two to three times daily. Elevating the arm will also help in the recovery process.
After three to four days, the initial wound dressing will be removed and patients can carefully use their wrist and hand. Bending the fingers and twisting the wrist slowly will help increase blood flow throughout the arm. Patients should avoid lifting anything heavier than 5 pounds for the first two weeks after surgery.
Bandaging will still be necessary after the initial bandage is removed. Applying a clean gauze bandage and securing it with Hy-Tape can help prevent infection and protect the skin from irritation.
Bathing After Surgery
Patients who undergo carpal tunnel surgery should avoid bathing for the first three days after the procedure. If it’s necessary to bathe, patients should wrap their bandage with a thick plastic bag to avoid any water entering the bandage. Once the initial bandage is replaced with a fresh one, careful showering is encouraged.
Soap and water can be lightly applied to the exposed surgical wounds after day three. Showers should be limited to five minutes or less to help prevent damage to the sensitive skin tissue. Patients should pat dry the area and should never rub the wound. Never submerge the exposed wound underwater as it could slow the healing process or even loosen the stitches and cause serious bleeding.
Wound Care After Surgery
Taking good care of the wound is vital to a full recovery from carpal tunnel surgery. Here are a few wound care tips:
- Initial dressing: Keep the initial dressing from the doctor over the wound for the first three days before replacing it with a fresh dressing. If necessary, shower with a plastic bag wrapped around the first bandage in the first three days.
- Change the dressing every two days: The wound will discharge liquid as it heals, so it’s important to replace the bandage at least every other day. Daily dressing changes may be beneficial but should be done carefully.
- Thoroughly dry the wound before applying a dressing: The wound should be as dry as possible before a new bandage is put in place. Patting the area dry after a shower is the best way to avoid damaging the skin and stitches.
- Use fresh, light gauze: Applying clean, light gauze will provide a safe area for the wound to heal. Adding Hy-Tape around the edges of the gauze pad can ensure a waterproof fit without restriction of movement.
Stitches from carpal tunnel surgery are taken out around the 10- to 14-day mark. In most cases, the wound is fully healed two weeks after surgery.
Securing A Wound Bandage Properly
It’s important to carefully change carpal tunnel surgery wound dressings. Without the right procedure, a patient could cause more harm than good and extend the length of recovery. Patients should do the following when changing a wound dressing:
- Slowly remove the current dressing: Slowing peel back the bandage tape and remove the dressing to avoid skin tears and bleeding.
- Lightly rinse the wound: Carefully apply soap and water to the wound to cleanse the skin and wash away any discharge.
- Pat the wound dry: Use a clean towel to gently pat the wound dry and do not rub the wound in any direction.
- Place a fresh gauze pad on the wound: Apply a new gauze pad to the wound, covering every bit of the area.
- Secure the dressing with Hy-Tape: Apply Hy-Tape around the gauze bandage to seal out water, protect the nearby skin, and ensure flexibility.
With the right practices, a patient’s carpel tunnel surgery wound can heal fully and they can return to their daily activities in under two weeks.
How Hy-Tape Can Help the Healing Process
While the wound dressing is important for any wound care situation, the tape that holds the dressing in place is just as vital. Hy-Tape provides a wealth of benefits for those who need to secure a wound dressing in place after carpal tunnel surgery.
Hy-Tape is designed to be waterproof, locking out moisture and water from soaking into a bandage and slowing the healing process. It’s made to be flexible so patients can freely move without fear of the tape peeling or cutting into their skin. Hy-Tape features zinc-oxide, a common ingredient of sunscreen, to provide skin protection and easy removal when a new bandage is applied.
Protecting the wound after carpal tunnel surgery can make a big difference in the length of recovery and quality of skin repair. Make sure to secure the wound dressing with Hy-Tape to ensure the best results.