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Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Alternative Names

    Median nerve dysfunction; Median nerve entrapment


    Treatment

    You may try wearing a splint at night for several weeks. If this does not help, you may need to try wearing the splint during the day. Avoid sleeping on your wrists. Hot and cold compresses may also be recommended.

    There are many changes you can make in the workplace to reduce the stress on your wrist:

    • Special devices include keyboards, different types of mouses, cushioned mouse pads, and keyboard drawers.
    • Someone should review the position you are in when performing your work activities. For example, make sure the keyboard is low enough so that your wrists aren't bent upward while typing. Your doctor may suggest an occupational therapist.
    • You may also need to make changes in your work duties or recreational activities. Some of the jobs associated with carpal tunnel syndrome include those that involve typing and vibrating tools. Carpal tunnel syndrome has also been linked to professional musicians.

    MEDICATIONS

    Medications used in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Corticosteroid injections, given into the carpal tunnel area, may relieve symptoms for a period of time.

    SURGERY

    Carpal tunnel release is a surgical procedure that cuts into the ligament that is pressing on the nerve. Surgery is successful most of the time, but it depends on how long the nerve compression has been occurring and its severity.

    See also: Carpal tunnel release


    Support Groups


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Symptoms often improve with treatment, but more than 50% of cases eventually require surgery. Surgery is often successful, but full healing can take months.


    Complications

    If the condition is treated properly, there are usually no complications. If untreated, the nerve can be damaged, causing permanent weakness, numbness, and tingling.


    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

    • You have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Your symptoms do not respond to regular treatment, such as rest and anti-inflammatory medications, or if there seems to be a loss of muscle mass in your fingers