The 34-year-old, who is currently player welfare manager at Salford Red Devils, has been struggling with a series of injuries.
He made his first team debut at Leeds Rhinos in 1997 and has made almost 350 appearances in a career which also included spells at Hull FC (twice), Warrington Wolves, Gateshead Thunder, Castleford and Featherstone .
He also played at international level for Wales, England and Great Britain.
Carvell said: “It is with some sadness that I would like to announce my retirement from the greatest game in the world.
“I have played professional rugby since I was 16 and although the mind is still willing, unfortunately the body has declared it’s time to stop.
“I’m awaiting a knee replacement and surgery on my neck to replace three prolapsed discs so a lot of recovery time is needed. I’ve got to the stage where I can’t kick a ball around the garden with my son and when the little joys in life like that are out of your reach it’s time to take a step back and realise that the moments are not available forever.
“I have loved being part of a game that has allowed me to make so many friends and allowed me to travel the world. It has been my life for such a long time that leaving the game completely would be impossible for me.
“I have taken a role at Salford Red Devils as part of the youth set up and also as the club’s player welfare manager. I’ll be coaching the under-19s team in the 2016 season and am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”
He added: “I’d like to thank everybody that has helped me throughout my career, from my start at Leeds Rhinos where I made my debut alongside Kevin Sinfield as a 16-year-old, my two spells at Hull FC, my short stint at Castleford and, of course, my time at Warrington Wolves.
“I was fortunate enough to represent and tour with my country and also had the pleasure to contribute to Challenge Cup wins for Hull FC and Warrington Wolves.
“Nothing will ever be able to replicate the absolute thrill of lifting that trophy alongside my mates, memories like that will stay with me forever.
“I would like to thank my family for supporting me throughout my playing days, my mum and dad for the early years and introducing me to the game that I grew to love and of course my partner Vicki.
“Without her unconditional support there is no way on earth I would of been able to pursue my career in the way I wanted.
“She has been my rock through all the ups and downs and will continue to be throughout the rest of my life.
“The only regrets I have are that I didn’t have my two children earlier, I would have loved them to have supported their old man and enjoy the thrills of big games.
“I also wish I’d have taken an offer to head to South Sydney at the end of the 2008 season and test myself in the NRL.
“Once again, thanks to all the supporters and a special big thank you to all my team-mates throughout my career.
“I have a lot of stories that I’ll take to the grave … unless of course I can make a few quid from a kiss and tell book deal!”
Carvell made four appearances for Rhinos, 176 with Hull, 135 for Warrington, six for Castleford last year and five since joining Featherstone Rovers for the current campaign.
He also played seven times for England, three for Great Britain and two for Wales.