Treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome 

Treatment
Pros
Cons
Wrist splints

These are usually worn at night to prevent the wrist bending and putting pressure on the median nerve

  • Available over the counter
  • No serious adverse effects
  • Can be used alongside corticosteroid injections
  • May be too bulky for daytime use, interfering with work and leisure activities
  • Needs to be worn on a long-term basis to relieve symptoms
Corticosteroid injection

Steroid medication that is injected into the wrist. Reduces tendon inflammation and pressure on the median nerve

  • Injection may also relieve arthritis symptoms
  • Can be used alongside wrist splints to help relieve symptoms
  • One injection may not be enough to relieve symptoms permanently; further injections may be required, which is time consuming 
  • There may be some discomfort after the injection
  • Recurrence of symptoms is common
Open release surgery

A cut (incision) is made in the wrist to access the carpal ligament to relieve pressure on the median nerve

  • No overnight hospital stay required
  • Effective at relieving symptoms
  • Small risk of complications developing after surgery
  • Longer recovery time than with keyhole surgery
  • More pain and discomfort afterwards compared with keyhole surgery
Keyhole surgery

Same operation as above, but does not involve opening up the wrist – the ligament is cut using an instrument that is inserted through a much smaller incision in the wrist

  • No overnight hospital stay required
  • Effective at relieving symptoms
  • A less intrusive procedure than open release surgery
  • Shorter recovery time than with open release surgery
  • Less pain during the first three months compared with open release surgery
  • Small risk of complications developing after surgery
  • Not all surgeons are experienced in this technique, so availability may be limited