Hands - Treatment Options

Patients with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually have non-surgical treatments first. These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Occupational therapy
  • Workplace modification
  • Wrist splints

If these treatments do not improve symptoms, you may need an injection of steroids into the carpal tunnel.

If none of the treatments help, most surgeons will use an EMG to test the electrical activity of the median nerve. If the test finds that the problem is carpal tunnel syndrome, carpal tunnel release surgery is an option.

Carpal tunnel release can improve strength and decrease pain in most patients, if these patients are good candidates for the surgery. The procedure improves pain, nerve tingling, and numbness better than it improves muscle weakness.

The longer you have had symptoms, the longer the recovery time and the less fully you may recover.


This surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis. Complete recovery can take anywhere from several weeks to a year, depending on how severely the nerve has been damaged.

A splint may be used to reduce wrist motion for the first few days after surgery. Don't delay moving the wrist for too long, though, because it can become stiff.

The longer the symptoms lasted before surgery, and the more severely damaged the nerve appears at surgery, the longer the recovery time.