Non-operative carpal tunnel treatment

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressively painful hand and arm condition caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed. Non-operative carpal tunnel treatment treats carpal tunnel syndrome without surgery.

Non-surgical treatment is usually tried before surgery for carpal tunnel. Common treatments are:

  • Wearing a brace or a splint, especially at night or when doing activities that cause symptoms.
  • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Adjusting what activities you’re doing and how you’re doing them, such as getting an ergonomic keyboard and mouse if your symptoms are caused by working at a computer too much.
  • Hand therapy exercises.
  • Steroid injections.


The carpal tunnel is a narrow structure at the base of the palm. It is formed by the bones of the wrist and a strong band of connective tissue called the transverse carpal ligament. Increased pressure in the tunnel affects the function of the median nerve. The median nerve controls feeling in the palm side of the thumb, index finger and long fingers. The tendons that bend the fingers and thumb, called flexor tendons, also travel through the carpal tunnel.

When is surgery recommended?

If you have tingling, numbness, pain and weakness in the hand, wrist or forearm, and all non-surgical methods of treatment have failed then you should consider carpal tunnel release surgery.

Non-operative carpal tunnel treatment physicians

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