Informed Patient Tutorial
Copyright 2012 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Informed Patient - Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery


Welcome to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' Informed Patient Program. These online learning modules have been developed by orthopaedic surgeons to help you better understand your condition and the treatments your doctor recommends.

The buttons at the bottom of this screen will help you navigate through the learning module. You may choose to turn the audio off or back on at any time during the module.

We also offer a printer-friendly version of this module. Simply click the "Print" button in the bottom left corner to create a paper copy.

Click the "Next" button to begin your learning module.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes numbness and pain in the hand. It affects up to 10 percent of the population and is more common in women.

For most people, carpal tunnel syndrome will worsen without some form of treatment. When treated early on, carpal tunnel symptoms may be relieved with simple measures. Your doctor may consider surgery if nonsurgical treatments do not relieve your hand pain and numbness.

This learning module will explain carpal tunnel syndrome and what treatments may be used to relieve the pain. It will discuss some common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as some of the nonsurgical treatment options you may have tried. It will then explain why you may need surgery and what you can expect from the procedure.

There are 10 parts to this learning module. As you work through them, you will be asked whether you understand the information, and you will be reminded to write down any questions you still have. This way you will be able to bring your questions with you the next time you see your doctor.

The learning module includes the following sections:

  1. Your Hand and Wrist: The anatomy of the hand and wrist is explained.
  2. Causes: Many things can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. This section describes some of these.
  3. Symptoms: This section explains some of the signs to look for in carpal tunnel syndrome.
  4. Diagnosis: This section explains some of the ways carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed.
  5. Nonsurgical Treatment: There are many nonsurgical options to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of these are explained in this section.
  6. Surgical Treatment: This section describes some of the aspects of surgical treatment.
  7. Your Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery: This section reviews what you may expect during surgery.
  8. After Surgery: This section explains what you may expect after surgery.
  9. Risks and Complications: Some risks and complications can be expected with any surgery. This section outlines some of the most common complications of carpal tunnel release surgery.
  10. Conclusion: This section sums up the information and provides you with an opportunity to add more questions for your doctor.