At Mayo Clinic, doctors who have training in neuromuscular conditions (neurologists), surgeons trained in hand surgery and other doctors work together to treat your carpal tunnel syndrome.
At Mayo Clinic, your medical team determines your treatment based on:
- The severity of your condition
- History of previous treatment
- Your overall health and the demands of your occupation and daily activities
- Your preference
Your treatment may include:
- Splint or brace. If you have mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor may recommend you wear a splint, to keep your wrist in a neutral position. This minimizes pressure on the median nerve and may help relieve tingling and numbness. In some people, symptoms may disappear after using a splint. You'll usually wear a splint only at night, but you also may wear it during the day.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may help relieve pain from carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Corticosteroid injections. Your doctor may inject the affected area with a corticosteroid drug, such as cortisone, to temporarily relieve your symptoms.
Carpal tunnel release surgery. If other treatments don't relieve your symptoms, you may need surgery. A surgeon will discuss surgical options with you and perform the surgery, which is called carpal tunnel release. Surgeons who have training in muscle and skeletal conditions (orthopedic surgeons), reconstructive surgery (plastic surgeons) or nerve surgery (neurosurgeons) may be involved.
In carpal tunnel release, your surgeon cuts the tissue that holds joints together (carpal ligament) to relieve the pressure on your median nerve. You'll have local or regional anesthesia, and you'll usually go home soon after your surgery. Surgery usually results in significant improvement in your symptoms, but you still may experience some residual numbness, pain or weakness. Your surgeon may perform an endoscopic procedure or an open procedure.
In endoscopic surgery, your surgeon performs carpal tunnel release through one or two small incisions in your hand or wrist using a device with a tiny camera attached to it (endoscope) to see inside the carpal tunnel.
In open surgery, your surgeon makes an incision in the palm of your hand over the carpal tunnel and cuts the carpal ligament.
See videos on endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery, nonsurgical treatment, carpal tunnel surgery, recovery and healing, results of surgery, carpal tunnel treatment — doctor guides decisions and carpal tunnel surgery — which option's safest?.
Feb. 22, 2011
- Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm. Accessed Dec. 20, 2010.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00005. Accessed Dec. 20, 2010.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/CarpalTunnelSyndrome.aspx. Accessed Dec. 20, 2010.
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- Wright PE. Carpal tunnel, ulnar tunnel, and stenosing tenosynovitis. In: Canale ST, et al. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03329-9..50076-3&isbn=978-0-323-03329-9&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03329-9..50076-3--cesec9&uniqId=230418749-3. Accessed Dec. 20, 2010.
- Clinical practice guideline on the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Rosemont, Ill.: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://www.aaos.org/research/guidelines/CTS_guideline.pdf. Accessed Dec. 21, 2010.
- Clinical practice guideline on the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. Rosemont, Ill.: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://www.aaos.org/research/guidelines/CTSTreatmentGuideline.pdf. Accessed Dec. 21, 2010.
- Scott KR, et al. Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 21, 2010.
- Amadio PC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 21, 2010.