Carpal Tunnel Treatment
Depending on what your healthcare provider believes is the underlying cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, various medications may be recommended. These medications can ease the pain and swelling associated with the condition. Medications frequently used for carpal tunnel treatment include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®), and a number of other medications. NSAIDs may ease carpal tunnel symptoms that have been present for a short time or that have been caused by strenuous activity. They are not recommended for long-term use, because while they may be helping the pain, the nerve damage is most likely still occurring.
- Corticosteroids (such as prednisone) or 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, temporary relief to persons with mild or intermittent symptoms. Injections should not be done repeatedly, however, because they may weaken the tendons.
- Diuretics ("water pills") can decrease swelling.
Stretching and strengthening exercises can be helpful in people whose symptoms have improved. These exercises may be supervised by a physical therapist or an occupational therapist.
If you have a job that keeps your wrist in one position, there are also some things that you should be doing. This includes:
- Stretching exercises.
- Taking frequent rest breaks.
- Using correct posture and wrist position. Try to keep your wrist relatively straight, because bending either way increases the pressure around the median nerve.
- Wearing splints (if possible) to keep wrists straight.
- Wearing fingerless gloves to help keep hands warm and flexible.
Just a few minutes of exercise and stretching each hour may be enough to prevent problems.
(Click Carpal Tunnel Exercises for more information.)