Treating carpal tunnel syndrome can be a tricky process that starts with non-invasive methods to help treat the condition. This can involve wearing a splint at night, deep tissue massages, or ice and heat therapy.
Should any of these non-invasive treatments fail to work, your doctor may suggest you try steroid injections as the next step in your treatment. While you may at first be worried about having injections into your hand, it can be helpful to learn more about what steroid injections are and how they work.
What are steroids and how do they work?
Your body produces natural steroids that are made by your adrenal glands. Your natural steroids help to manage the effects of inflammation in your body, such as swelling of tissues and joints following an impact or fall.
The steroid injections your doctor will give you are a man-made version called corticosteroids. These steroid injections have proven to be most effective in resolving carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms and they help to reduce the amount of swelling and inflammation of tissues around the median nerve in the wrist, which decreases the level of pain and numbness you feel.
How are steroid injections administered?
Your doctor will inject the steroid solution directly into the carpal tunnel in your wrist. Most of the time your doctor will use ultrasound to help them position the needle perfectly into the area to ensure the steroids reach the carpal tunnel without injuring any nearby tissue.
Records show that up to half of the patients receiving steroid injections for carpal tunnel syndrome find relief from their symptoms within a month of the procedure.
How long does the treatment last?
In a lot of cases, patients can see the complete removal of their carpal tunnel symptoms following steroid injections. However, others may find the benefits of these injections starting to wear off within 10 weeks or so.
Should you find that steroid injections are not a complete solution for your symptoms, then surgery may be the next step in your treatment, but some people prefer to continue with steroid injections for longer before deciding to go the surgical route.
Are there any side-effects from steroid injections?
Some patients receiving steroid injections report minor side-effects such as slight to moderate pain in their hands following treatment, but this tends to ease off after a few days. While major side effects are very rare, there is an increased risk of nerve damage.
Can you take oral steroids for CTS?
Your doctor may recommend using oral corticosteroid when you are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome for the first time. However, you may only take these for up to two weeks and taking oral steroids can give you unwanted side-effects such as stomach upset, skin irritation or weight gain.
Oral steroids are usually only prescribed if your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are not very severe.
If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms that make you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome, then you should book an appointment to see your GP as a first step towards a proper diagnosis.
Should it be confirmed that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you can then choose to wait for NHS treatment or seek help from a doctor that specialises in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome for quicker treatments and faster relief.
Article by Dr. Naveen Bhadauria