Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Treatment Overview
The goal of treatment for
carpal tunnel syndrome is to allow you to return to
your normal function and activities and to:
- Address other health conditions if they are
making your symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome worse.
- Reduce any
inflammation of tissues in the wrist that puts
pressure on the
- Determine the causes of your
carpal tunnel symptoms. You can then identify whether there are activities for
you to avoid or do differently and ways you can help prevent the
- Prevent nerve damage and loss of muscle strength in your
fingers and hand.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is based on the
seriousness of the condition, whether there is any nerve damage, and whether
other treatment has helped. Treatment options include treatment without surgery
(nonsurgical treatment) or with surgery.
- If treated early, carpal tunnel symptoms
usually go away with nonsurgical treatment.
- If your symptoms are
mild, with occasional tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain, 1 to 2 weeks of
home treatment are likely to relieve your symptoms.
- If home
treatment does not help, or if your symptoms are more severe (including the
loss of feeling in your fingers or hand, or the inability to perform simple
hand movements such as holding objects or pinching), have your doctor examine
you and recommend treatment.
If your symptoms are not
severe, expect your doctor to recommend nonsurgical treatment to see whether
symptoms improve. Nonsurgical treatment includes:
- Evaluating any other medical problems that
might contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, and changing your treatment for
those problems if needed.
- Changing or avoiding activities that
may be causing symptoms, and taking frequent breaks from repetitive
- Wearing a
wrist splint to keep your wrist straight, usually just
at night. See a picture of a
wrist splint .
- Using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Although studies have not shown NSAIDs
to be effective for carpal tunnel syndrome, they may help relieve your
- Learning ways to protect your joints as you go through your
In some cases, oral corticosteroids or corticosteroid
injections into the carpal tunnel may be considered if other methods to reduce
inflammation do not work.
Surgery is sometimes
recommended when other treatment has not helped, if a carpal tunnel condition
has continued for a long time, or if there is nerve damage or the risk of nerve
damage. Surgery involves cutting the
ligament that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel.
This relieves the pressure on the median nerve, which eases or ends the
symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
See a picture of the ligament
carpal tunnel release surgery .
Surgery is usually successful. In
some cases it does not completely relieve the numbness and pain in the fingers
or hand. This may be the case if there has been permanent nerve damage caused
by long-standing carpal tunnel syndrome or by other health problems such as
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