Do you lose strength in your hand after carpal tunnel surgery?

Answered by Tom Adger

After carpal tunnel release surgery, it is not uncommon to experience weakness in the hand. There are several potential factors that can contribute to this weakness.

One possible cause of weakness is the division of the transverse carpal ligament (TCL) during the surgery. The TCL is a thick band of tissue that runs across the wrist and helps to form the roof of the carpal tunnel. By dividing this ligament, the surgeon is able to relieve pressure on the median nerve and alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, this division of the TCL can weaken the structural integrity of the wrist, leading to post-operative weakness.

Another potential cause of weakness is incision or pillar pain. Following carpal tunnel release surgery, it is common to experience pain and discomfort at the site of the incision. This pain can radiate along the wrist and into the palm and fingers, resulting in weakness. Additionally, the pillars of the palm, which are the bony structures that support the base of the hand, can become inflamed and painful after surgery. This inflammation can also contribute to weakness in the hand.

Swelling is another factor that can lead to weakness after carpal tunnel release surgery. Swelling is a natural response to surgery and can occur in the hand and wrist following the procedure. This swelling can compress the nerves and blood vessels in the hand, leading to weakness and decreased dexterity.

Flexor tenosynovitis, which is inflammation of the flexor tendons in the hand, can also cause weakness after carpal tunnel release surgery. The flexor tendons run through the carpal tunnel and are responsible for flexing the fingers. Inflammation of these tendons can result in pain, swelling, and weakness in the hand.

In my personal experience, I did experience some weakness in my hand after carpal tunnel release surgery. It took several weeks for the weakness to subside and for my hand to regain its full strength. During this time, I found it helpful to engage in hand exercises and physical therapy to help improve strength and mobility.

To address the weakness after carpal tunnel release surgery, it is important to follow the post-operative care instructions provided by your surgeon. This may include wearing a wrist brace or splint, taking prescribed medications, and performing hand exercises. It is also important to give yourself time to rest and allow your body to heal. If the weakness persists or worsens, it is important to consult with your surgeon for further evaluation and treatment.

Weakness in the hand is a common occurrence after carpal tunnel release surgery. Factors such as TCL division, incision or pillar pain, swelling, and flexor tenosynovitis can contribute to this weakness. Following post-operative care instructions and engaging in hand exercises can help improve strength and promote healing.