The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Medications for carpal tunnel syndrome are prescribed to reduce swelling in the carpal tunnel. Two different kinds of medication may be effective. Both medications are aimed at reducing inflammation, a primary cause of swelling in this area.
Glucocorticoids (cortisone-like drugs, steroids)
These cortisone-like drugs are given in short, sometimes tapering, bursts lasting a week or two. Glucocorticoids can produce a number of negative side effects, particularly when taken for prolonged periods. For this reason, your healthcare provider will prescribe them only for a short time. You will be monitored while taking them. These medications are often quite effective in reducing inflammation.
Common names include:
There are currently twenty prescription NSAIDs on the market. Each medicine has a slightly different chemistry and side effect profile. NSAIDs can be as effective as cortisone and are safer over the long run. However, they do have side effects.
Common names include:
Take special care with NSAIDs if you have had an ulcer or gastritis . They can irritate these conditions. Tell your doctor if you have a stomach condition before you start taking any of these medications.
An injection of synthetic glucocorticoids, commonly referred to as "cortisone." It is injected directly into the carpal tunnel. It may be used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome if rest, medications, and lifestyle changes are not working. This is a simple office procedure that is quite safe if done infrequently. It reduces inflammation and the swelling and pressure inside the carpal tunnel.
Injections rarely cause excessive bleeding and even more rarely cause infection. If there is excessive pain or swelling, contact your healthcare provider.
Lower doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are sold over the counter and include:
Take special care with NSAIDs if you have had an ulcer or gastritis, as they can irritate these conditions. Tell your doctor if you have a stomach condition before you start taking any of these medications.
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:
Carpal tunnel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113671/Carpal-tunnel-syndrome. Updated July 25, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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