How Occupational Therapy Can Help After Carpal Tunnel Surgery

After carpal tunnel surgery, you must learn to properly exercise, strengthen, and use your injured hand to promote optimal healing. One of the top recommended therapies for post-surgery is occupational therapy. Below, we outline what is occupational therapy and how occupational therapy can help speed recovery from carpal tunnel surgery.  

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel is a condition that happens when the median nerve, which runs from your forearm through the carpal tunnel in your wrist and to your hand, becomes compressed. This compression can cause pain and numbness in one or both hands and problems with fine motor coordination such as buttoning clothing or writing. It also can be associated with tingling, itching, and burning sensations along an affected person’s arm. 


What is Occupational Therapy, and How Can it Help Me After My Hand Surgery?

The goal of occupational therapy is to assist people in doing daily tasks. The majority of us rely on our hands for our professions and daily activities.

If you are recovering from carpal tunnel surgery (also known as “carpal decompression”), occupational therapy may help you recover faster by teaching exercises that improve strength and agility while reducing discomfort during everyday activities like typing on a computer keyboard. Therapy also can help you learn to use the muscles around your hands, wrists, and forearms so that everyday activities don’t cause pain.

In occupational therapy after carpal tunnel surgery, a physical therapist or occupational therapist may do any of these things:

Mild Hand, Finger, Wrist, and Forearm Exercises

These exercises assist in strengthening the hand, fingers, wrist, and forearm. They also reduce swelling without causing damage to the incision site or stitches. 


Flexing and Stretching

Finger and hand stretches aid in flexibility and inflammation reduction. To avoid aggravating the incision, they are usually modest at first. Check out the Therapeutic Exercise Program for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for examples of stretches. 


Strengthening Exercises

Hand exercises will become more robust as the incision heals. In addition, the muscles in the hand, fingers, wrist, and forearm will be strengthened.


Joint Stabilization

This may be done by squeezing and stretching therapeutic putty.


Improving Range of Motion

Stretching, flexing, and exercises can help you regain your range of motion following surgery. This allows you to gradually and safely resume normal activities.



Learning from an occupational therapist will help you avoid the recurrence of symptoms. For example, developing good posture and mobility habits.


Occupational (Hand) Therapy in Northern Colorado

At OCR, our hand therapists are specialists in hand and upper extremity disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome. 


We have gyms at the Fort Collins,  Loveland, Longmont, and Lafayette clinics. In addition, we have a variety of specialized equipment to help our therapists progress your program in the most efficient way possible.


If you have questions about our techniques or your home exercise program, please contact us. We want you to be fully informed so you can participate actively in your recovery from injury or surgery!


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