Carpal Tunnel Treatments

Despite its prevalence amongst working class people, Carpal tunnel syndrome is not as popular or as taken seriously as should be. Those who actually have slight knowledge or idea about the syndrome commonly take it as a joke, teasing workaholic colleagues that they just might develop the syndrome if they work too hard. But Carpal tunnel syndrome is everything but a joke as it can easily debilitate a life if taken for granted. Those who are already diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome will be given choices in the various carpal tunnel treatments available at their disposal.

Both medical and surgical interventions should be started as soon as possible with the doctor's direction and guidance. Although you will be given firsthand accounts on your treatment options, the possible complications and benefits, the doctor will also decide to treat the potential underlying causes of the syndrome. The beginning of treatment will involve immobilization of the wrist using a wrist splint, to avoid possible exacerbation of the damage on the median nerve by twisting or bending the area where the carpal tunnel lies. Resting the affected area, specifically the hand, the wrist and the fingers, for two weeks is also an important intervention to be able to avoid further damage. When there is a presence of inflammation, application of ice packs can help to decrease swelling.

Non-surgical Carpal tunnel Treatments

Before turning to surgery there are other medical interventions that can be given. These are far less invasive and have lesser complications compared to undergoing surgery.

Drugs- There is numerous medications available in prescription and non-prescription, which can easily alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. For instance, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonprescription pain relievers, may relieve the symptoms that have been present for a short time or have been caused by an exhausting activity. Orally administered diuretics, otherwise known as water pills, can decrease swelling. Corticosteroids (such as prednisone) or the drug lidocaine can be injected directly into the wrist or taken by mouth (in the case of prednisone) to relieve pressure on the median nerve and provide immediate and temporary relief to persons with mild or intermittent symptoms. (Caution: persons with diabetes and those who may be predisposed to diabetes should note that prolonged use of corticosteroids can make it difficult to regulate insulin levels. Corticosterioids should not be taken without a doctor's prescription.) Moreover, some studies show that an intake of Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) supplements may also ease the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Exercise - You may think that exercise can only give further damage to those who are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. However, stretching and strengthening exercises are pretty beneficial for those whose symptoms have already subsided. Nevertheless, never attempt to exercise by yourself or do strenuous exercises without the approval and supervision of your physical therapist. They are typically trained to utilize exercise regimens in the treatment of different physical impairments. If there are no physical therapists available, you can also approach an occupational therapist, who are adept in determining the readiness of patients for physical exercise.

Alternative therapies - Although medications, exercise and rest can sometimes be enough to alleviate the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, alternative therapies can also be an added benefit. Acupuncture and chiropractic care have benefited some patients but their effectiveness remains unproved. An exception is yoga, which has been shown to reduce pain and improve grip strength among patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Surgical Carpal Tunnel Treatments

Carpal tunnel release is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States considering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is also one of the most common neuropathic diseases amongst the population. This surgery is recommended for those whose symptoms last for 6 months. The surgery involves severing the band of tissue around the wrist to reduce pressure on the median nerve. Surgery is done under local anesthesia and does not require an overnight hospital stay. Many patients require surgery on both hands. The following are types of carpal tunnel release surgery:

The first is the open release surgery, which is a customary procedure used to correct carpal tunnel syndrome. This surgery consists of making an incision up to 2 inches in the wrist and then cutting the carpal ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel. The procedure is generally done under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis, unless there are unusual medical considerations.

Next is the endoscopic surgery, which often allows faster functional recovery and less postoperative discomfort than traditional open release surgery. The surgeon makes two incisions (about " each) in the wrist and palm, inserts a camera attached to a tube, observes the tissue on a screen, and cuts the carpal ligament (the tissue that holds joints together). This two-portal endoscopic surgery, generally performed under local anesthesia, is effective and minimizes scarring and scar tenderness, if any. One-portal endoscopic surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is also available.

Although symptoms may be relieved immediately after surgery, full recovery from carpal tunnel surgery can take months. Some patients may have infection, nerve damage, stiffness, and pain at the scar. Occasionally the wrist loses strength because the carpal ligament is cut. Patients should undergo physical therapy after surgery to restore wrist strength. Some patients may need to adjust job duties or even change jobs after recovery from surgery.

Self-care and Follow-up Treatments

At home, remember to put on your wrist splints when it is necessary and depending on your own preference. Typically, wrist splinting is done for 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the progress of the symptoms. It is also important to keep up with the doctor's appointment and the follow-up check up afterwards. Most of the carpal tunnel treatments, specifically the surgical treatments, effectively get rid of the syndrome. The recurrence rate of carpal tunnel syndrome in patients is very, very low as majority of the patients are healed completely.