Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Management

By Julia Aparicio

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Management

There are many treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition of the fingers and hands that occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed at the wrist. Depending on the severity of the case, treatment options can range from noninvasive to surgical.

  • A wrist splint can be used to help support the wrist and keep it secure so the tendons and nerves affected can heal. The splint can be worn either all day or just at night, depending on the level of pain.
  • Physical therapy can be recommended to help strengthen the muscles in the wrist and hand by performing different exercises.
  • For mild cases of carpal tunnel, resting the hand and wrist from performing repetitive movements can help the condition improve.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications in the short term also can help reduce swelling and relieve pain, as can receiving cortisone injections from a physician. However, these solutions are only temporary.

In the most severe cases, open release surgery is required to enlarge the carpal tunnel. Open release surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States. It consists of making a minor incision in the palm or wrist and cutting the ligament to reduce pressure on the median nerve. Surgery typically is recommended if the patient’s symptoms have persistently lasted longer than six months. Open release surgery is an outpatient procedure typically performed under local anesthesia.

Endoscopic surgery also can be performed, which can allow for a quicker recovery and minimal scarring. This surgery involves making two incisions in the wrist and palm and inserting a camera through a tube. After viewing the tissue on a screen, the surgeon cuts the ligament tissue. With both forms of surgery, symptoms can be relieved almost immediately; however, full recovery can take much longer and many patients require physical therapy to strengthen the wrist.

Less invasive alternative medicine options also can be considered. Yoga can help strengthen the joints in the upper body, improving grip strength and reducing pain caused by carpal tunnel. Hand therapy and ultrasound therapy also are techniques that have been used to help improve symptoms. High-intensity ultrasound is conducted over the course of several weeks to raise body tissue temperature and control pain. Acupuncture also has been utilized to help improve pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Last Reviewed November 15, 2015

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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

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