How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with non-surgical and surgical options. When you are first diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, your orthopaedic surgeon will likely create a treatment plan that involves resting the affected hand for at least two weeks, avoiding activities that worsens symptoms and immobilizing the wrist with a splint. You may require further specialized testing called EMG/NCS to further confirm the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Non-surgical treatments can include wrist splinting, anti-inflammatory drugs, exercise and corticosteroids. Wrist splinting can hold the wrist still, especially while you are sleeping. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Motrin can help alleviate pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. Strengthening and stretching exercises can help once symptoms have subsided. Corticosteroids can be injected into the wrist and alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
If carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms persist even after trying nonsurgical treatments or the nerve tests show severe nerve compromise, your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend surgery. Surgery is intended to relieve pressure on the median nerve by cutting the ligament that is pressing on the nerve. There are two types of carpal tunnel syndrome surgery — open release and endoscopic surgery. Our surgeon will discuss with this with you, to determine which surgery is best for them.
Open release surgery – This is the traditional procedure used to correct carpal tunnel syndrome. In open surgery, the surgeon makes a two-inch incision in the palm of the hand over the carpal tunnel. Then, the surgeon will cut the carpal ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel and free the median nerve. The recovery time is virtually the same as endoscopic surgery, but it will result in more postoperative pain.
Endoscopic surgery – Endoscopic surgery may result in less pain and activity limitations than open release surgery directly following surgery, but the differences in pain are generally small. In endoscopic surgery, the surgeon will use a telescope-like device with a tiny camera attached to it (endoscope). The surgeon will use the endoscope to see inside the carpal tunnel and cut the ligament through one or two small incisions in the hand or wrist. The recovery time is virtually the same as open release surgery.