Injection of Steroid Improves Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for at Least a Year
None of the patients experienced side effects, and the authors say the duration of benefit seen in patients who initially received methylprednisolone is longer than previously reported.
However, an expert who reviewed the study for WebMD says that although the authors conclude that the results are better than what has previously been reported, multiple studies indicate that in the long term, regardless of whether the injection is in or near the carpal tunnel, steroid injection is not a permanent solution since less than 10% of patients sustain benefits from a single steroid injection. "A lot of people have improvement with cortisone but it doesn't resolve anything," says Michelle Gerwin Carlson, MD.
"Yes, they will get temporary improvement, but it doesn't get rid of the problem and in almost all people, the improvement seen after the injection eventually goes away. To answer this question about long-term benefit you would need hundreds of patients, not 60. But overall, the number of people who can be cured with cortisone is very, very small." Carlson is an orthopedic and hand surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. She is also an assistant professor at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.
She adds that the swelling near the carpal tunnel that the researchers describe is unusual in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome and may have been a sign of tendonitis, a condition in which the tendons become inflamed as a result of injury. "If tendonitis is the problem, the injection can cure the tendonitis and as long as you don't revamp the tendonitis, you may be cured and that may be what happened in these patients. But most people with carpal tunnel don't have much swelling. The hand feels swollen from the pressure, but we don't usually see patients with noticeable swelling."