Carpal Tunnel Home > Carpal Tunnel Surgery Anesthesia

In carpal tunnel surgery, anesthesia is available in two different forms: regional and general. With regional anesthesia, medication is injected to numb your entire arm and wrist. Although the anesthesia will take away all pain sensations, because you are awake during the surgery, you may feel slight pressure and movement in the procedure site. General anesthesia will put you into a deep sleep so that you are not aware of any pain, pressure, or movement during the procedure.

An Introduction to Carpal Tunnel Surgery Anesthesia

Anesthesia is used to eliminate the pain felt during a procedure. For carpal tunnel surgery, the two most common types are regional or general anesthesia.

Regional Anesthesia for Carpal Tunnel Surgery

With regional anesthesia, your anesthesia provider can inject numbing medication to numb your entire arm and wrist. This is called an "axillary block." When the anesthesia is injected, you may feel a burning sensation that lasts for a short period of time. During the procedure and after the numbness has taken effect, you will also receive additional medication through your IV to relax you and make you feel sleepy. Although the regional anesthesia will take away all sensation of pain, you might still feel some pressure and movement during the procedure.

General Anesthesia for Carpal Tunnel Surgery

The other option for carpal tunnel surgery is general anesthesia. This type uses medication to put you into a deep sleep so that you are not aware of any pain, pressure, or movement during the procedure.
In order to do this, you will first be asked to breathe through an oxygen mask. Then you will be given medications through your IV, which will cause you to feel pleasantly relaxed and slowly drift off to sleep. After you are sound asleep, a breathing tube will be placed into your windpipe to assist with your breathing throughout the operation. Your anesthesia care team will give you other medications as required during your procedure through your IV and/or breathing tube.
You will talk to the anesthesia provider prior to the surgery, and any questions or concerns you have regarding the choice or effects of the anesthesia can be discussed at that time.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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