Carpal Tunnel Treatment

Diagnosis

To diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor may take your medical history and physically examine your hands, arms, shoulders and neck. He may test the fingers and muscles for sensation or strength. He may examine your wrist for tenderness or swelling. Specific tests named Phalen’s test and Tinel test may also done to see the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

To confirm diagnosis and choose the best treatment plan, electrophysiological tests and X-rays are also sometimes recommended by your doctor.

Treatment

Carpal tunnel syndrome should be treated as early as possible. If left untreated, the condition may worsen over time. Treatment or therapy of carpal tunnel syndrome includes both surgical and non-surgical treatments depending on the cause and severity of symptoms.

Non-surgical treatment

In most patients, non-surgical therapy is usually effective, if treated earlier. It includes:

Wrist splinting: A splint or brace, worn while you sleep may help relieving symptoms like tingling and numbness. Splinting may also prevent the bending of wrist, which may cause aggravation of symptoms.

Medications: NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, may help relieve pain and inflammation from carpal tunnel syndrome. Corticosteroids injections are also used sometimes, to decrease inflammation, which relieves pressure on the median nerve.

Changes in activities: Modifying or avoiding those activities which aggravate symptoms, may help slowing down the progression of disease.

Surgery

If the symptoms are not relieved by non-surgical treatments, surgical treatment may be recommended by your doctor. The main aim of the surgery is to reduce the pressure on the median nerve. Usually performed as a out patient procedure, the surgery does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. In rare cases, bleeding, infection and nerve injury may happen during surgery.

Recovery

After the surgery, most people are permitted to use their hand for light activities starting the day of surgery. However, weakness of hands may persist up to six months. Sometimes, complete recovery may take up to a year. In more severe cases, recovery is slower and might not be complete. The carpal tunnel syndrome may recur after a long time in some rare cases. It may require an additional surgery.

 

 

Sources
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00005
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm