4 Non-Surgical Treatments For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common nerve entrapment syndrome, affecting anywhere from 3-5% of the general population. If you’re a part of that percentage, you know that carpal tunnel syndrome can be frustrating and downright disruptive.

Although we tend to think of CTS as being a repetitive motion disorder only, there are multiple possible causes, including but not limited to injury, trauma, tendinitis, pregnancy and age.

Once you have been diagnosed with CTS, and depending upon the severity of your case, you have a few treatment options available to you before making the jump to a surgical procedure. I am an advocate for trying conservative treatments before surgical whenever possible, so here we go!

4 Non-surgical Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treatments


Treatments

Lifestyle ModificationĀ | If your CTS has been caused by repetitive motion or some other reason related to daily life, changing some things throughout your day can be helpful in limiting symptoms. If your job consists of constant typing, take small breaks throughout the day and make sure you are sitting in an ergonomic position while typing.

Unfortunately, there are times when the only real way to stop the symptoms is to change jobs, but that is so much easier said than done, I know. If you can’t do that, you can try:

Wrist splintSplinting | A wrist brace/splint can be very helpful for lessening the symptoms of CTS depending on the cause. It is best to use one that allows your hand to rest in a neutral position and to be fastened just tight enough, but not too tight that you lose circulation. They can be worn at night while you sleep or while at work.

Before I was officially diagnosed, a wrist brace was the only thing that gave me noticeable improvement and now that I have arthritis in my wrist, I still use mine from time to time.

Medications | Although controversial, some physicians will suggest taking pyridoxine (vitamin B6) for symptoms arising from carpal tunnel syndrome because it affects neural function. Other options include NSAIDs (anti-inflammatories) like Aleve or ibuprofen, or oral steroids like a Medrol Dosepak.

Fun fact: I can’t take steroid packs because they make me super depressed and suicidal. That’s why I can’t take certain anti-depressants. My brain is so great.

Steroid Injections | If you’ve tried all of the above without benefit, you may want to try a steroid injection. Your physician will inject a steroid (each physician has their preferred steroid of choice), along with a numbing agent into the affected area. As an anti-inflammatory, an injection can be much more effective than oral steroids, as it is delivered directly to the inflamed area.

This can take a few days to show results, but it can be very effective, depending on the amount of damage done to the nerve. I know it’s anecdotal, but in the office in which I work, we have had patients get injections and go years without needing further treatment.


Last Resort

As I said, I am all about trying conservative treatments first, but sometimes surgery is necessary and if all of the above fails to benefit, that’s probably what you’re looking at.

Luckily, however, today the procedure really isn’t that bad, especially if done with an arthroscope. Below is a series of photos from my recovery; as you can see, there isn’t that much damage.

Heads Up!

IMG_0717
Within a week of surgery.
IMG_0736
A couple of weeks after surgery
IMG_7133
Now, three years later

Even the recovery time isn’t that bad; usually just a week or so until you can go back to light duty. Compared to the other surgeries I’ve had (and other health problems), the carpal tunnel syndrome and treatment was a cakewalk.

I hope this information helps and if you have any questions or comments or stories, let me know!

 

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I am a medical professional, introvert and writer. I enjoy writing about health and relationships and helping others.

2 thoughts on “4 Non-Surgical Treatments For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  1. I type all day long at work and noticed some symptoms of Carpal tunnel. I was even tested. I did buy a splint to delay any further damage!

    1. Yes! Wearing a splint at night really helped me! I think that if I had started preventative measures sooner I probably wouldn’t have required surgery, but what’s done is done. šŸ™‚

      If you notice symptoms at work it might be helpful to wear it there if you can, too.

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