People whose work involves repeated movements of wrist and hands are very prone to developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition is marked by numbness, pain, and tingling in the arm and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed. The median nerve is one of your hand’s significant nerves located at the front of the forearm. Continued squeezing or pressure on the median nerve may lead to worse symptoms and permanent nerve damage. To avoid carpal tunnel syndrome from worsening, one must get it diagnosed and treated early. Early treatment can halt or slow down the progression of the disease. Wearing a wrist splint and limiting certain activities are standard measures for carpal tunnel pain relief. In worst cases, surgery may be recommended by the doctor to take the pressure off the median nerve.
This article explains the most effective carpal tunnel syndrome treatments.
1. Bracing or splinting
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be relieved without surgery if diagnosed early. Wearing a wrist splint or brace is the most common carpal tunnel syndrome treatment in its early stages. Splinting is a non-surgical treatment that your doctor will probably recommend if you have mild symptoms. Wearing a wrist splint will inhibit your wrist from bending, especially while you are asleep and unconscious of your hand’s position. When the wrist maintains a neutral position, the compression in the median nerve is reduced. Wearing a wrist splint during the day can help you keep your wrist straight even while doing daily tasks.
2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are the first line of medicine used for treating pain. Over-the-counter pain killers such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can help ease your hand’s pain and inflammation.
3. Activity changes
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are often felt when your hand and wrist are extended or flexed, and you keep the same position for an extended period. For carpal tunnel relief, one must avoid activities that trigger or worsen the symptoms. If you cannot completely stop specific actions, you can modify these activities to slow down your disease’s progression. A few changes in your work station can help you in the long run.
4. Nerve gliding exercises
Performing particular exercises is recommended as a carpal tunnel syndrome treatment. Your doctor or therapist may suggest specific exercises that can induce the median nerve’s free movement within the carpal tunnel.
5. Steroid injections
Another non-surgical treatment for carpal tunnel relief is injecting corticosteroid. Corticosteroid is an anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce pain and other symptoms. Although steroid injections only provide temporary relief, it is an option for alleviating severe pain.
6. Surgical Procedure
If engaging with non-surgical treatments over some time did not help ease your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery for carpal tunnel pain relief. The surgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is known as “carpal tunnel release.” This procedure can be done in two different surgical ways: open carpal tunnel release and endoscopic carpal tunnel release. For both of these techniques, the goal is to cut the ligament that forms the tunnel roof. Doing the procedure will increase the size of the tunnel and reduce pressure on the median nerve. Almost every carpal tunnel surgery is done on an outpatient basis. For the surgery, the doctor may put you under general anesthesia. It means that you will remain unconscious during the operation. If not, the surgery can be done with local anesthesia wherein only your hand and arm will be numbed. Giving a light sedative through an intravenous (IV) line inserted to your arm’s vein can also be done.
In open carpal tunnel release, the doctor will make a small cut in your palm, and the doctor will see and inspect the inside of your palm. During the surgery, the doctor will cut your carpal tunnel roof, called the transverse carpal ligament. Doing this will expand the size of the tunnel and reduce pressure on the median nerve.
In endoscopic carpal tunnel release, your doctor will make one or two smaller cuts called portals. Using an endoscope (a miniature camera), your doctor will view the inside of your hand and wrist. The doctor needs to cut the transverse carpal ligament using a knife, just like in open carpal tunnel release.