5 Things to Know About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment From an Orthopedic Surgeon

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CT) is caused by median nerve compression in the wrist. It’s a painful, lingering injury that is very common. Some common symptoms from Carpal Tunnel are numbness and tingling involving the thumb and index finger, worsening numbness with wrist flexion, and shooting pain up the forearm. Fortunately, there are several ways to treat symptoms of CT. Here are 5 things you should know about carpal tunnel.

  1. Supplements and Drugs

There are a few treatments that are often used in conjunction to treat mild to moderate CT. Vitamin B6 is often used as a first treatment for Carpal Tunnel symptoms. There is some mixed evidence that B6 might help reduce pain from CT. Another natural symptom-reliever is turmeric, which may reduce inflammation. You can add small doses to your diet or you can consume turmeric supplements. Similarly, oral NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen aspirin, and naproxen sodium can be taken to relieve symptoms and reduce swelling. However, you should consult a doctor before taking B6, turmeric, or NSAIDs to make sure you are not consuming quantities that are too high and might lead to adverse side effects.

One other potential drug treatment for CT symptoms is cortisone injections. These injections typically have about a 45% success rate in providing short-term relief, and are a good option if other treatments have failed.

2. Night Brace

Wrist splints can help avoid further stress to a CT injury. Wearing a splint keeps the wrist in a neutral position. This is especially important at night because you are most likely to bend your wrist while sleeping.

3. Modified Work Stations

One important way you can prevent or mitigate CT is by modifying your workplace layout. If your job requires a lot of wrist positions that add stress to your wrists, you may be able to make some adjustments that can help. Ensuring keyboards are lower than desks, using a touch pad instead of a mouse, and taking regular breaks can all help.

4. Physical Therapy and Stretches

Some hand therapy treatments may also help alleviate symptoms of CT, in general and after surgery. When used in combination with other treatments, specific stretches and exercises can help reduce mild to moderate CT symptoms. Stretches may help reduce pressure in the median nerve of the carpal tunnel, and improve circulation.

Check out our video showing you some stretches to help with Carpal Tunnel!

5. Carpal Tunnel Surgery

If none of the treatment options above have worked, an EMG/NCS (electromyogram and nerve conduction study) may be conducted. An EMG/NCS is a diagnostic test that helps doctors determine a patient’s nerve and muscle condition and informs treatment options like surgery.

CT surgery is an outpatient procedure that usually only takes 5-10 minutes and typically uses local anesthetic. A surgeon cuts the transverse carpal ligament and enlarges the carpal tunnel in the wrist to relieve compression of the median nerve.

After CT surgery, patients usually wear a splint for one or two weeks before a follow-up appointment to remove the splint. After splint removal, a physical therapy program can help improve wrist and hand mobility and movement. Full recovery takes around 6 weeks. Over the course of recovery and beyond, it’s normal for there to be some pain and numbness in the fingers and wrist. However, you should always consult with your surgeon to assess your recovery.

If you have Carpal Tunnel or you have any questions about treating Carpal Tunnel, you may want to consult with a professional for advice and treatment. Call Dr. Grossfeld’s office at 502-212-2663 for more information and an expert opinion.