Unbearable pain after carpal tunnel surgery and trigger thumb surgery, what could it be?

by Camille
(B.C., Canada)

I had carpal tunnel release and trigger thumb surgery 11 days ago.

I was taken to emergency after 7 days because of the pain. I saw the surgeon on the day after.

There is a lot of bruising but don't see any infection in either incisions. I commented that I found it hard to believe this pain was OK, shall I say. Part of the recovery.

So now it's day 11 and my ring finger still feels sprained and the pain at the base of my thumb is so intense, I feel nauseated.

On a scale of 1 - 10, it teeters on 9 and I have a high pain tolerance. Even the pain medication, oxycodone is not helping. Or should I be using Advil?

How long should I continue feeling like this?

I can get a picture tomorrow if that will help?


Joshua Answers:

Hello Camille.

You didn't enter your email on the notifications section, so I hope you find this.

It's been a few days, hopefully you are feeling better.

If there's no infection, then I chalk it up to the trauma caused by surgery. They cut through skin and connective tissue, and in the case of the trigger thub, cut through dense, IRRITATED tendon sheath, and probably shaved off some tendon and/or tendon sheath tissue.

So there was injury on top of insult.

Imagine spraining your ankle, and then stabbing the most painful spots with a
knife a few times.

Doctors don't really say it, but SURGERY = INJURY. Sometimes it doesn't go as smoothly as one would like it to.

The best I can offer you to decrease pain is to start Ice Dipping as described on the How To Reduce Inflammation page. A LOT. As many times a day as you can for the next several days.

You had, and now have more, pain enhancing chemical getting pumped into the area, and your nervous system is VERY unhappy and frightened for your safety. Meaning, it's goign to try to protect you in ways that, unfortunately, have you hurt more.

Get that chemical out, it will hurt less.

Tendonitis is one thing. Getting cut into is something else entirely.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Comments for Unbearable pain after carpal tunnel surgery and trigger thumb surgery, what could it be?

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May 09, 2014
Pain Before And After Carpal Tunnel Surgery
by: James Alford

I'm a 58 year old man and spent my working life as an iron worker.

This left me with carpal tunnel in both wrist. The symptoms were pain in palm of hand and no matter what i did, if i did it repetatively my hands hurt like hell and then got numb.

I found a dr. in denton texas and he did surgery on wrist and moved the nerve in my elbow.

The pain in my elbow ended fast but 5 days after surgery the wind cought the door of my truck and i grabed it with the bad hand and pulled something in my thumb.

It has been 15 weeks sence surgery and it has finley started getting better. At times the pain was unbearable


Joshua Comments:

Hi James.

Ouch. Sudden foreceful movents after surgery sometimes can't be avoided due to instinctual reactions.

Though they are to be avoided if at all possible so no reinjury occurs....

See related: Recent Carpal Tunnel Surgery Still Have Weakness Pain And A Grinding Feeling

Dec 23, 2014
It's been 5 months since trigger finger surgery and carpal tunnel surgery
by: Trina K.

It's been five months since having trigger release on my middle left hand finger and carpel tunnel surgery on both my hands! Trigger finger is still stiff and sore, my right wrist doesn't hurt but my left has pain if I wove it the wrong way.

My MAIN problem is my palms especially my left hand and severely in my left palm and around the thumb! It's only getting worst by the day!!!! C

an barely touch anything with it or use it with out sharp pains going from my thump into my wrist!!

Please help me!!!!!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Trina.

I'm so sorry to hear that!

But as you're experiencing, surgery doesn't always make anything better, and often makes it worse.

And surgery leaves the CAUSES of the original pain/problem 100% untouched.

So you have the trauma of surgery and how your body is responding to it as well as all the original factors that caused the Trigger Finger and Carpal Tunnel Symptoms in the first place.

Step 1. Read through this entire thread (it's a small one, good news/bad news).

Step 2. Follow the links in this thread and read those pages.

Step 3. Follow links on those pages and read what you find.

Step 4. Come back here and ask any questions you have.

Jan 22, 2017
thumb locking after carpal tunnel surgery
by: Anonymous

It has been 6 months after carpel tunnel surgery. I have made great improvement in strengthening my pinky and ring finger with physical therapy.

My alarming problem is the stiffness in my thumb.

It locks up, moves stiffly if at all, and is extremely painful. Is this normal and will this ever heal over time? Using that hand for the simplest of tasks is very difficult.


Joshua Comments:

1. Pinky and ring finger numbness/issue is a 'cubital tunnel' issue not a 'carpal tunnel' issue, when looking at what nerves supply where.

So that's interesting, pointing to that there are other factors at play.

2. If you didn't have thumb issue before the surgery but you do now, that points to the overall tendonitis dynamic (tightness, inflammation, nutritional insufficiency).

And if the thumb is 'locking up' that points to 'trigger thumb'.

See Related: Recent Carpal Tunnel Surgery Still Have Weakness Pain And A Grinding Feeling

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