Unable to use fingers after op

Rosalie McFall

My father had carpal tunnel surgery almost three months ago. His symptoms were not terribly severe but his doctor recommended the operation and explained that it was relatively straight-forward and didn't pose much of a risk. His main symptoms were tingling and a numbness in his fingers. Immediately after the operation though, his hand swole up and he has almost completely lost the use of his forefinger, which he can't bend at all, and his middle finger is very stiff. He'd had no issues with these fingers exept for the tingling and numb feeling before the operation. My father's GP thinks that nerves may have been damaged during the operation. Physiotherapy has not seen any improvement and when he returned to his surgeon, he was told that these issues with his two fingers had nothing whatsoever to do with the surgery and are instead caused by arthiritis (an X-ray showed arthritis on all the joints in his hand). The surgeon says it is a complete coincidence that this happened at the exact time he received the operation. My father finds that difficult to believe as he had no problem with movement in his fingers previously. The surgeon also said that nothing whatsoever could be done to alleviate his symptoms, that physiotherapy would not help and that eventually all his joints will do the same thing.

I'd be really interested to hear other opinions on this.

Many thanks,


It is always difficult to comment on a medical story heard at second-hand but it sounds as though the risks associated with carpal tunnel surgery may have been a little understated - 'didn't pose much of a risk' is a very flexible piece of phrasing and I do think surgeons should give patients the actual complication rates for common operations before asking the patient to make a decision. The outcomes for carpal tunnel surgery in my area are shown in the surgical prognosis page here so you can decide for yourself whether those figures constitute not much of a risk.

There is no law saying one patient cannot develop a second disease so it is entirely possible that there is both arthritis and CTS but the surgeon, at least as reported, is not sounding very sympathetic. To get further one would need to know a few facts. Were any nerve conduction tests carried out before surgery? If so have they been repeated since to check that the changes seen are appropriate for correctly performed surgery? Have the original symptoms of tingling and numbness actually improved? There is a guide to analysing what has gone wrong with carpal tunnel surgery on this page. JB

Rosalie McFall

Thanks for your reply. I believe the tingling has improved some but his hand feels so cold and numb most of the time. Regarding nerve conduction tests, I'm not sure but I will ask him tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll check out the guide.

Thank you,

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here.