Like with any type of injury, wrist surgery recovery time will vary depending on the type of injury, the type of surgery, and the general health of the individual before the operation. For most people, wrist surgery recovery times range from a few weeks to several months. The bone itself may heal within a month or two, but fully recovering from the surgery or the injury can take 4 to 6 months.1 Consult with your doctor to get a more specific recovery timetable for yourself. 

As a guide, here are some general wrist surgery recovery times:

Wrist Surgery Recovery After Carpal Tunnel Release

If you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and nonsurgical techniques have not helped relieve the pain, your physician might recommend carpal tunnel release surgery. This surgery may help alleviate pressure on the median nerve, restoring function and reducing pain.3 

A surgeon can choose from several techniques. They might make a small incision and cut the ligament that is impeding the carpal tunnel. This “open” procedure typically involves a longer recovery period. An endoscopic procedure requires less downtime. For this procedure, a surgeon inserts an endoscope (a tiny camera) into a very small incision, which allows the surgeon to cut the ligament with tools inserted into another very small incision.2

For most people, recovery takes 3-4 months, but it may be a year beforehand strength fully returns. When surgery is performed on the dominant hand, recovery time is generally slightly longer.7

Wrist Surgery Recovery After a Fracture

Because there are many ways that the bones in the wrist can fracture, your recovery time varies with the injury you suffered. In general, you can expect a healing period of at least six weeks after a bone fracture. 

The most common type of bone fracture is a distal radius fracture, which often occurs when you try to catch yourself after a fall.1

When the fracture is unstable, a doctor may recommend surgery. After surgery, you can expect to wear a fixed splint, cast, or removable splint.3

Most people need physical therapy following wrist surgery or a serious fracture. The length of physical therapy depends on numerous factors. Because full recovery can take 4 to 6 months, you may need physical therapy for several months.4

Wrist Surgery Recovery After Tendon Repair

Doctors sometimes recommend tendon repair for individuals with arthritis or overuse injuries that cause inflammation in the tendons that run along the back of the hand and wrist. 

Similar to carpal tunnel release surgery, tendon repair may be performed either endoscopically or with an open incision to create more space and relieve pressure on the tendons. The tendon usually fully recovers within 12 weeks, and most people can return to their usual activities within 6-8 weeks.5

Wrist Surgery Recovery

You may help decrease wrist surgery recovery time by following your physician’s recommendations about limiting activity, resting, and applying cold and compression therapy. 

After the initial recovery period of a few days to a couple of weeks, physical therapy may help you regain your range of motion. In general, the earlier you are able to begin movement, the faster you may regain strength and range of motion.

It’s important to talk to your surgeon or doctor before beginning strength training since exercising too early can slow recovery and cause new injuries. 

Cold and compression therapy may help limit inflammation, reduce swelling, and naturally relieve pain without the use of medication. This type of therapy is particularly important after surgery because excessive fluid build-up and retention may slow down the healing process.

Active compression may help the healing process by removing excess fluid and bringing fresh blood and nutrients to the damaged tissues.

Speak with your doctor if you’re interested in cold therapy for your recovery.


  1. Wrist fractures: a guide to recovery. April 2015.
  2. Open carpal tunnel surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. Michigan Medicine. Published September 2018.
  3. How to care for your body after wrist fracture surgery. Rothman Orthopaedic Institute. Accessed June 14, 2019.
  4. Wrist fractures: a guide to recovery. April 2015.
  5. Hand tendon repair. NHS. Published February 5, 2019.
  6. Distal radius fractures of the wrist: avoiding complications with proper diagnosis and treatment. Hospital for Special Surgery.
  7. Carpal tunnel release: what to expect at home. Alberta.