chronic vs acute painIf you have pain, numbness, and tingling in your thumb and fingers, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. In many cases, the condition can be managed by using a variety of interventions. Below, you’ll find an outline of carpal tunnel treatment without surgery.


What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a fairly common condition that affects the hand and wrist. It occurs when the median nerve – which runs from your forearm to your hand and passes through a narrow space called the carpal tunnel – is compressed or pinched. Symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling in your thumb and the first three fingers of your hand.


9 Carpal Tunnel Treatment Suggestions without Surgery

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the nerve damage. In some less severe cases, CTS can be treated without surgery. Consult your doctor to see if you need surgery or not.

Here are 9 ways you can treat your carpal tunnel syndrome:

1. Rest

  • The first step to take is to rest your fingers, hand, and wrist.
  • You should try to avoid any activities that make your symptoms worse. When your symptoms improve, gradually resume your activities. Make sure you keep your wrists straight or only slightly bent.


2. Over the Counter Medication

  • Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or naproxen to the relieve pain. However, there is a lack of evidence to support the use of NSAIDs to treat CTS.
  • Before taking NSAIDs, consult your doctor to make sure there are no medical reasons to avoid these pain relievers.


3. Corticosteroid Injection

  • Corticosteroids decrease inflammation and swelling, which relieves pressure on the median nerve. For treating CTS, oral corticosteroids aren’t considered as effective as corticosteroid injections.
  • One injection is usually recommended. You might have to repeat the treatment if you respond well to it.
  • Consult your doctor to see if this is needed for you.


4. Ice

  • During the acute stage (within the first 6 weeks), apply an ice pack or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel to your wrist, or soak it in an ice bath.
  • Do this for 15 to 20 minutes every 2-3 hours.
  • Icing makes the blood vessels in the area constrict which helps numb your pain and reduce swelling.


5. Heat

If you have been experiencing CTS for more than 6 weeks, stop using cold compresses. Note: If the area is swollen, do not apply heat.

  • Apply a heat pad or hot water bottle in a hand towel to the area to soothe the pain. Heat increases blood flow to the area, which can help to speed up the recovery process.
  • Immerse your hand in warm water and gently move or flex your hand and wrist. Repeat three to four times a day.


6. Splinting for CTS

  • Wear a wrist splint to support  your wrist and prevent it bending, so keeping it correctly aligned. This will help decrease the pain, numbness, weakness and the tingling sensations you are experiencing.
  • Wearing the splint at night while you sleep to keep you from flexing or overextending your wrist and help relieve symptoms.
  • Your symptoms should begin to improve within four weeks of wearing the wrist splint.


7. Massage

Massage therapy helps ease the pain and soothe and relax the tensed and inflamed muscles of your hand and wrist.


8. Activity changes

  • Symptoms commonly occur when your hand and wrist are in the same position for too long, especially if held in a flexed or extended position.
  • If your job or other activities aggravate your symptoms, you need to change or modify them to help ease the symptoms and aid recovery.


9. Exercise your hand

Exercises (including nerve gliding exercises) can help in freeing the median nerve from within the confines of the carpal tunnel and reduce symptoms.


If symptoms don’t ease in one or two weeks, you should see a doctor. Without treatment, CTS gets worse so early diagnosis is vital to avoid the need for surgery.  Carpal tunnel treatment without surgery includes interventions such as splinting, medications, rest, and exercises, and are effective in mild to moderate cases of the condition.

9 Carpal Tunnel Treatment Suggestions without Surgery, feel free to add your own suggestions below.