Carpal tunnel surgery

Learn about the surgical procedure, costs and recovery for carpal tunnel surgery.

What is carpal tunnel surgery?1

Carpal tunnel surgery is used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. The surgery is a quick hospital procedure that can be done under local anaesthetic (you’ll be awake), or general anaesthetic (you’ll be asleep). The surgeon makes a small cut on the palm of your hand, then treats any ligaments that are causing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Surgery can relieve pain and numbness – but it’s usually recommended only for severe cases.2

Carpal tunnel surgery is performed by an orthopaedic surgeon.

The medical term for carpal tunnel surgery is ‘carpal tunnel release’.

Someone feelings carpal tunnel symptoms

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome2

  • Tingling or numbness in your fingers or hand.
  • Nerve pain in your wrist, hand, or up your arm.
  • Weakness in your hand.
  • Fingers feeling swollen.

Alternatives to carpal tunnel surgery

These non-surgical treatments can be effective, especially in the early stages of carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • An injection of local anaesthetic or steroids.1
  • Treating underlying causes.
  • Wrist support.2
  • Physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy.
A person receiving alternative treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome
Someone recovering from carpal tunnel surgery bandaging their hand

Carpal tunnel surgery recovery2

Most patients can go home the same day after carpal tunnel surgery, but it can take up to 6 months for the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome to slowly improve.

  • Your wrist may be quite painful or uncomfortable for a couple of days, and your doctor may prescribe analgesia (pain-relieving medication).
  • Keep your hand raised and bandaged for two days.
  • Gently exercising your fingers, elbow and shoulder may prevent stiffness.
  • Talk to your surgeon about what rehab exercises you should be doing after your surgery.

Getting carpal tunnel surgery at a public vs private hospital

It’s important to understand how getting your procedure in a public or private hospital differs.

Public system (Without health insurance)
Private system (With health insurance)

Will I avoid public hospital waiting lists?

  • No.
  • Yes.

Will I be able to choose my hospital?

  • No.
  • Yes.

Will I be able to choose my doctor or surgeon?

  • No.
  • Yes.

Will I have out-of-pocket costs?

  • No.
  • Yes.

What is the cost of carpal tunnel surgery?

In a public hospital

In a public hospital, carpal tunnel surgery is covered by Medicare for eligible residents.

Once you are discharged from hospital, you may still need to pay out-of-pocket for things like medicines and health services (like physiotherapy or occupational therapy).

In a private hospital, using health insurance

In a private hospital, private health insurance can cover some costs of carpal tunnel surgery.

You may have an out-of-pocket cost if you use private hospital cover when you get treatment. You can minimise some of these costs by choosing a hospital and specialist that have agreements with your health insurer.

If you have an excess on your cover, you will have to pay for that out of pocket.

What is hospital excess?

What is an out-of-pocket cost?

How to find health cover for carpal tunnel surgery

Minimise your costs

Ask your GP for an open referral

Your GP is the one who’ll most likely refer you to a specialist – but you may want the option to choose your own specialist.

Asking for an open referral can let you:

  • Choose your own specialist.
  • Find a specialist with good availability who can perform treatment at the hospital you prefer.
  • Find a specialist that you trust to perform your surgery.
  • Find a specialist with minimum out-of-pocket expenses for you.

Find a surgeon with minimum out-of-pocket costs

To find orthopaedic surgeons who have an agreement with HBF, just search for ‘orthopaedic surgeon’ in our find a provider tool.

  • Look for the “Full Cover” tick mark or “Access Gap Cover” tick mark.
  • These specialists will help minimise your out-of-pocket cost.

Find a Provider

If you’ve already started working with a specialist

If you’ve already got a specialist, ask them these questions:

  • Do you have a Full Cover or No Gap agreement with HBF?
    If they don’t, you may need to consider if their fees work with your budget.
  • What hospital(s) do you operate in?
    You can then check if the hospital has a Full Cover or No Gap agreement with HBF.

Looking for health insurance?
Get a quote in minutes

Compare our hospital and extras cover options now. Or use our health insurance recommendation tool to select your needs and find our most affordable cover to suit.

Get in touch with HBF

We'll help you find our best cover that suits your needs.