Some people may be able to treat carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) with home remedies. A doctor may also recommend physical therapy and corticosteroids. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) typically progresses over time. However, getting an accurate diagnosis and beginning treatment as early as possible can help a person manage symptoms and reduce the likelihood of symptoms worsening.

Read on to learn more about home remedies and medical treatments for CTS. This article also looks at when doctors recommend surgery for CTS, steps that may help prevent the condition, and more.

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Home remedies may help manage CTS. Examples include:

  • Wearing a wrist splint: A wrist splint or brace relieves pressure on the median nerve. Wearing the splint or brace at night can help prevent the wrist from bending while the person sleeps.
  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): People can help relieve CTS pain and inflammation with over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
  • Changing certain activities: People can try making changes to certain workplace or recreational activities that aggravate their CTS symptoms. Using ergonomically designed tools and furniture where possible can also help.

People may find that resting their hands helps their CTS. This can include taking short breaks when doing repetitive tasks with the hands.

Learn more about home remedies for CTS.

Medical treatments that can help with CTS include:

  • physical therapy, such as carpal bone mobilization, where therapists move a person’s wrists to promote flexibility or extension
  • nerve gliding exercises at a doctor’s advice, which can help a person’s median nerve move more freely in their carpal tunnel
  • corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory medications that a doctor can inject into a person’s carpal tunnel to relieve symptoms

A doctor can advise on whether they recommend medical treatments for a person’s specific case of CTS.

Learn about hand exercises for CTS.

Doctors may recommend surgery:

  • if a person’s CTS symptoms are severe
  • when other treatments do not work or only work temporarily
  • to prevent permanent damage

They typically base a decision to recommend surgery on:

  • the severity of a person’s symptoms
  • how well other treatments are working
  • the results of tests, such as:
    • physical exams
    • imaging tests, such as ultrasound scans

Surgery for CTS involves relieving pressure on the median nerve. The name for this procedure is a carpal tunnel release.

During the operation, surgeons make a small cut in a person’s hand. They then cut the ligament that forms the roof of a person’s carpal tunnel, called their transverse carpal ligament.

Ligaments are bands of tissue that help hold a person’s bones, joints, and organs in place. Releasing this ligament:

  • increases the size of a person’s carpal tunnel
  • decreases pressure on their median nerve

This allows blood to flow properly to their median nerve, relieving CTS symptoms.

Surgery usually cures a person’s CTS. However, mild symptoms may persist.

Scientists do not yet know the exact cause of CTS. There is no one way to prevent CTS completely.

However, people may be able to help prevent CTS by:

  • performing hand and wrist exercises
  • keeping their muscles flexible by keeping their hands warm
  • organizing their workspace and tools to reduce hand and wrist strain
  • taking regular breaks when performing repetitive tasks
  • using good posture to keep the wrists in a natural position

A person’s doctor can provide more information on ways to help reduce the likelihood of CTS.

Here are some frequently asked questions about CTS.

What is the fastest way to recover from carpal tunnel syndrome?

The fastest way to recover from CTS depends on each person’s individual factors and the severity of their CTS.

A person’s doctor can help them create a personalized CTS treatment plan based on their individual circumstances. This can include home remedies, corticosteroids, and surgery in some cases.

Can you self-heal carpal tunnel?

If CTS is mild, it may be possible to treat the condition with home remedies alone. It can also sometimes heal itself. However, it can take a few months to improve.

Can you fix carpal tunnel without surgery?

With early diagnosis and treatment, it may be possible to fix CTS without surgery. It is important to contact a doctor for advice as soon as a person has concerns about symptoms of CTS.

There are several treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), some of which people can carry out at home. Home remedies include wearing a wrist splint, taking NSAIDs, and avoiding certain activities that may worsen symptoms of CTS.

A doctor may also recommend medical treatments, such as physical therapy and corticosteroid injections. If CTS is severe, or if it does not respond to other treatments, surgery may be necessary.