Potential complications from carpal tunnel surgery

July 24, 2023 | Crandall & Pera Law
Potential complications from carpal tunnel surgery

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that affects the hand and wrist, causing pain, numbness and weakness. For severe cases or when conservative treatments fail to provide relief, carpal tunnel surgery, also known as carpal tunnel release, may be necessary. Understanding potential complications is essential for Ohio patients considering or undergoing carpal tunnel surgery.


Although surgical sites are meticulously cleaned and sterilized, there is always a risk of infection due to medical malpractice. Signs of infection include increased pain, redness, swelling and discharge at the incision site. Prompt medical attention is crucial if infection is suspected.

Nerve or blood vessel damage

During carpal tunnel surgery, delicate nerves and blood vessels are at risk of unintended injury. In rare cases, damage to the median nerve or surrounding structures can lead to worsening symptoms or even permanent disability.

Scar tissue formation

After surgery, the body forms scar tissue to complete the healing process. However, excessive scar tissue can put pressure on the median nerve, leading to recurring symptoms and the need for further treatment.

Persistent or new symptoms

While carpal tunnel surgery aims to alleviate symptoms, some patients may experience persistent or new symptoms after the procedure. This may be due to incomplete release of the carpal ligament or other underlying factors.

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)

CRPS is a rare but serious condition that can occur after carpal tunnel surgery. It involves intense pain, swelling and changes in skin color and temperature in the affected hand. Early recognition and treatment are essential in managing CRPS effectively.

Allergic reactions

Some patients may experience allergic reactions to anesthesia, surgical materials or medications used during or after the surgery. Considering known allergies as well as conducting preemptive screening, can significantly reduce dangerous immune system reactions.

Recurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome

In some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome may recur, especially if underlying risk factors, such as repetitive hand movements or certain medical conditions, are not addressed. Employers can facilitate recovery by educating their employees about movements that cause carpal tunnel symptoms, while implementing changes in workplace protocols can help reduce symptoms.

Mitigating carpal tunnel surgery risks

Patients need to have a thorough discussion with their surgeon about the potential risks and complications associated with carpal tunnel surgery. Factors such as age, overall health and the severity of carpal tunnel syndrome can influence the likelihood of complications. Adhering to post-operative care instructions and attending follow-up appointments is vital to monitor the healing process and address any concerns promptly.