Is Carpal Tunnel Permanent?

Ask a Doctor

I have had carpal tunnel for a year or so now. The wrist pain symptoms go from mild at the beginning of the work week to severe by Friday (I work almost exclusively on a computer). My doctor has recommended surgery, but I hate to go under the knife. Are there home remedies to cure carpal tunnel? Can carpal tunnel syndrome go away on its own?

Doctor’s Response

In some cases, if carpal tunnel syndrome is mild and it is caught early, it may go away on its own with strict rest. If carpal tunnel syndrome is not treated, permanent nerve and muscle damage may occur. Early diagnosis and treatment offers the best results.

Non-surgical treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include:

Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome can cure the condition, but residual weakness or numbness is common. If your symptoms last a long time and are not relieved with recommended home care, you should see your doctor.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is rarely an emergency. Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome respond to nonsurgical treatment. The first line of treatment for mild carpal tunnel syndrome is to wear a wrist brace. This has been shown to relieve the symptoms from the carpal tunnel by placing the wrist in an optimal position (30 degrees of extension), reducing the nerve irritation. If carpal tunnel syndrome persists for a long time, permanent nerve injury is possible that will cause numbness as well as weakness and atrophy (shrinkage) of muscles in the hand. Treatment is directed at preservation of hand function.

  • The prognosis for carpal tunnel syndrome is very good.
  • Mild cases can respond to nonsurgical care, such as bracing and steroid injection.
  • Advanced cases can be treated very effectively with surgery.

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William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR coauthored this article. REFERENCES:

Milind J Kothari, DO. Carpal tunnel syndrome: Treatment and prognosis. 13 November 2018. 28 December 2018 .

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet. 13 July 2018. 29 December 2018 .