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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: considering treatment options?

When it comes to repetitive stress injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome might be one of the more well-known types of injuries. Often, this injury is associated with repetitive typing, and the position of the hands and wrists on a computer keyboard over an extended period of time.

Eley_9182013_1.jpgHistorically when someone suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, a doctor will first recommend the use of wrist splints to reduce pain and swelling in the nerve and ligaments. If those don't help, then steroid shots are used. The last resort for carpal tunnel syndrome is surgery. And while a surgical procedure is often the most effective way to treat carpal tunnel, it is the most expensive as well. Could steroid shots, a cheaper alternative to surgery, help reduce the pain long-term?

Unfortunately, while steroid shots are the more inexpensive remedy, the effects do not last for long. A recent study in Switzerland compared two groups of people who suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome. The first group chose steroid treatment while the second group chose to forego steroids.

Eley_9182013_2.jpgOne year later, researchers took a look at how many people in each group opted for surgery. If steroid shots could help reduce pain long-term, it would make sense that the group that was treated with steroids would have fewer who opted for surgery one year later. However the results showed that there was no significant difference between the groups; the steroids seemed to provide only temporary relief.

But will this study make a difference when doctors recommend treatment? Experts say likely not. But for those who suffer from carpal tunnel, treatment can be costly and it helps to know what options exist.

Source: Reuters, "Steroids offer mostly short-term carpal tunnel relief," Kathryn Doyle, Sept. 4, 2013

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