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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Health Center

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?

There are several ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Lifestyle changes. Treatment first involves adjusting the way the person performs a repetitive motion, such as changing the frequency with which the person performs the motion and increasing the amount of rest time between movements.  Stretching and strengthening exercises may also be helpful.
  • Immobilization. Treatment also includes immobilizing the wrist in a splint to minimize or prevent pressure on the nerves. Splints that support the wrist in a comfortable neutral position can be of great value if worn at night to relieve painful numbness or tingling. This can provide a restful sleep and allow the median nerve to endure daytime activities.
  • Medication . Patients may be given short courses of anti-inflammatory drugs or injections of steroids in their wrist to reduce swelling. Injections are most successful when people have mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of an acute (severe) flare-up.
  • Surgery. If carpal tunnel syndrome does not respond to conservative treatment, then surgery is the next treatment option. During surgery, your surgeon will open the carpal tunnel and cut the ligament, relieving the pressure. Carpal tunnel surgery is quite effective at relieving painful symptoms when the condition involves only nerve constriction.

When carpal tunnel syndrome is just one manifestation of repetitive stress, the surgery cannot be expected to relieve symptoms that are not attributable to carpal tunnel syndrome. The difficulty is not in recovering from the operation, but in recovering the ability to return to work, especially to the same job that caused the repetitive disorder to occur. Whether or not true carpal tunnel symptoms recur in these patients, many continue to have pain and are unable to use their hands to any great extent.

What Can I Do to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

To help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Sleep with your wrists straight or use a splint.
  • Keep your wrists straight when using tools but try not to use splints.
  • Avoid flexing and extending your wrists repeatedly.
  • Perform conditioning and stretching exercises.
  • Use correct positioning of hands and wrists while working.
  • Arrange your activity and workspace using ergonomic (correct posture of the wrist and hand) guidelines to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, office ergonomics focuses on how a workstation is set up, including the placement of your desk, computer monitor, paperwork, chair, and associated tools, especially the computer keyboard and mouse.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on June 12, 2015
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