Finding Relief from Chronic Carpal Tunnel

Many people occasionally experience wrist pain, but for individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome, the discomfort can be persistent, ranging from mild to severe. Typically, the condition is caused by repetitive wrist or hand movements. Specifically, the median nerve that runs from the wrist into the hand gets compressed, causing pain. Carpal tunnel can be a degenerative disease if left untreated. In severe cases, people may struggle to manage basic movements and activities. Although many people can control symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, other sufferers may require more serious medical interventions.


Treating carpal tunnel

For people who can’t control carpal tunnel symptoms through lifestyle changes or with OTC medications, the 2 most common medical treatments are corticosteroids or surgery. Corticosteroids can be taken orally but are usually administered as injections into the wrist. In some cases, the treatment can be given as a precursor before moving on to surgery. A recent study found that in a review of 111 adults with carpal tunnel, individuals who received corticosteroid injections were less likely to require follow-up surgery.

When to consider surgery

Carpal tunnel surgery is usually reserved for more severe cases when non-invasive interventions fail to provide sustained relief. In particular, if a person experiences pain, tingling, and numbness that persists or worsens over 6 months, surgery might be a good idea. Likewise, if pain makes using the affected hand harder, such as when gripping, pinching, or grasping objects, then surgery might be required.

Carpal tunnel release

There are 2 different ways to perform carpal tunnel release. The most common options are open or endoscopic surgery. With open surgery, a larger incision is made from the wrist to the palm. Meanwhile, with endoscopic surgery, a much smaller cut is made, and a tiny camera is placed in the opening. With both versions, a doctor will cut away part of the ligament around the carpal tunnel in the wrist to help relieve pressure on the median nerve. Of the 2 surgeries, the endoscopic method allows for faster healing, less pain, and fewer scars.

Possible surgical risks

As with any medical treatment, risks are always possible. However, the bulk of patients that undergo carpal tunnel release go on to enjoy fewer or no symptoms. For more severe cases, pain may still happen occasionally, but usually the discomfort isn’t as intense or frequent as before the procedure. Some risks that might arise can include bleeding, an infection at the incision site, a scar that’s painful to the touch, and in more severe cases, damage to the median nerve or nearby blood vessels and nerve.

Put an end to wrist pain

The biggest concern with leaving carpal tunnel untreated is that the condition can progress to the point that a person struggles to use the hands for basic tasks. Most people who choose to undergo surgery experience marked improvement after recovery. If standard non-invasive interventions aren’t working to manage symptoms, and hand functionality is diminishing, consider speaking with a doctor to determine whether or not carpal tunnel release surgery is a good idea.

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