When considering carpal tunnel syndrome treatment options, it is best to begin as early as possible. This will aid in reducing progression and help decrease the amount of pain one will experience if left untreated. Initial treatment involves resting the affected hand, wrist and arm for at least a week, avoiding any activity that may worsen the symptoms. Activities to avoid would include any type of strenuous movement that requires the hand and wrist to twist or turn. Immobilizing the wrist in an effective brace or splint will keep the hand from further being damaged. Also applying cool packs may help reduce any swelling and inflammation that occurs.
There are several options available to carpal tunnel patients for treatment and relief. Both surgical and non-surgical treatments are effective in their own ways, whether limited or long term. Be sure to consult your doctor before pursuing any suggested treatment for your current issues.
Braces and Wraps – Using a brace properly positions and supports the wrist to help alleviate pain and symptoms of carpal tunnel. But you want to wear a brace that fits and works best for you. When choosing a brace consider factors such as a free palm design, which allows easier gripping; breathable fabric for maximum comfort; easy application; and metal support that gives the hand the freedom, yet proper support, to perform daily functions. A great example includes the aPallo Wrist day/night brace system. Not only will your wrist be supported, but it will also have the freedom to move and treat the conditions both day and night.
Taking B6 Supplements – Research has shown that a deficiency in vitamin B6 could be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Evidence has also shown that individuals with higher levels of vitamin C, but lower B6 levels, were associated with more cases of the symptoms known for the syndrome. Food sources that contain vitamin B6 include avocados, sunflower seeks, chicken, sweet potatoes and bananas.
Exercising – A very effective form of exercise to eliminate and reduce symptoms is that of yoga. Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome who practice yoga tend to show signs of improvement in grip strength and pain reduction compared to those who do not. Other forms of exercise include stretching and strengthening the hands, arms and wrists.
Drugs – Many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are known to ease pain and swelling for a short time. Lidocaine can be injected directly into the wrist or taken orally to relieve pressure on the median nerve and provide immediate, temporary relief.
Alternative Therapies – Acupuncture and chiropractic care are two widely used alternative treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome. Both therapies may help to reduce symptoms and improve function of the hands and wrists. Additional alternative remedies include Feldenkrais and Hellerwork, both are forms of bodywork that teach individuals how to use movement to better function through the pain of carpal tunnel.
The most common surgical procedure to alleviate pain is called carpal tunnel release. Surgery is recommended if symptoms last longer than 6 months, are unbearable and or become a hindrance to daily life. A surgical procedure involves separating the band of tissue around the wrist to reduce the pressure and constriction around the median nerve, causing the carpal tunnel syndrome and pain. The two types of carpal tunnel release surgeries are open release surgery and endoscopic surgery. Both of these are described below.
Open Release Surgery – This is the traditional procedure for operating on carpal tunnel. The surgery consists of making an incision about 2 inches long in the wrist and then cutting the carpal ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel. The idea is to reduce the constriction around the carpal tunnel to alleviate the syndrome.
Endoscopic Surgery – This type of surgery involves one or two smaller incisions than that of the open release. Tissues are not divided to the same degree as open release, either and an endoscope is used to visualize the underside of the carpal ligament. Endoscopic surgery is less painful, reducing postoperative discomfort and allows for faster recovery.
Full recovery from any of the above mentioned surgeries can take months and physical therapy is recommended afterwards to regain strength in the hands and wrist. As mentioned before, be sure to consult with your doctor before pursuing any form of remedy or surgery. Treatment options vary from patient to patient and some treatments may work better than others.