If you were diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome after you visited the doctor to address numb, tingling fingers or pain in your wrists, the next steps in your treatment depend on how severe your diagnosis is.  We have outlined both non-surgical and surgical treatments for helping to alleviate the pain.

“In my practice, I see patients when their Carpal Tunnel Syndrome pain is no longer tolerable,” says Timothy Niacaris, MD, Ph.D., a Texas-based orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand, upper extremity, and microvascular surgery. “Patients often have had progressive symptoms for months to years before their initial evaluation. They often tell me that their biggest regret is waiting too long to get it fixed.”

There’s no need to cope with pain and discomfort. Read on to learn how to get carpal tunnel relief:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome relief and treatment options

For milder cases, you may be able to improve your symptoms with carpal tunnel treatments that you do at home. Carpal tunnel treatment options that may help include:


Wear a brace or splint that is designed to keep your wrist straight1 while you’re in bed at night. Many people bend their wrists inward while they’re sleeping, which puts pressure on the median nerve, causing pain or numbness. You may also wear a splint during the daytime if you need extra support while doing repetitive activities, like typing.

Taking breaks

Whenever you’re doing an activity that causes your wrists or hands to hurt or feel numb, stop what you’re doing2 and rest your hands for a few minutes. Some people find that shaking out their hands and wrists provides some relief from pain or tingling sensations.


Stretches that flex or stretch the wrists may help minimize pain.3 A doctor or physical therapist may recommend exercises and watch you perform them to ensure that you do them right.

Applying ice

A cold compress or ice pack may relieve inflammation or swelling when your wrists hurt. Apply ice4 for 10 minutes at a time, once or twice per hour.

Taking medication

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are available over-the-counter, help to reduce pain and relieve inflammation.

Getting corticosteroid injections

Some doctors may offer a steroid injection to relieve the pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. An injection at the site may reduce inflammation within the carpal tunnel and relieve pain. Doctors may use ultrasound as a guide to ensure that they pinpoint the correct injection site.

There are two broad categories for treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Open surgery

The first carpal tunnel release procedures date back to the 1930s. This technique – known today as the open technique - works by making an incision in the palm so that the surgeon could see where to cut the transverse carpal ligament to release the pressure on the median nerve.

The downside of this technique is that the surgeon must cut through several layers of fascia and muscle to get to the carpal ligament, which causes pain and tenderness for several weeks during the healing process. The carpal tunnel pain and numbness may go away right after surgery or may take several months to subside. It is recommended that you try to avoid heavy use of your hand for up to 3 months.

Endoscopic surgery

Over the past 30 years, many surgeons have moved to the endoscopic approach, with many studies proving its safety and efficacy.5 During endoscopic carpal tunnel release, instead of cutting into your palm, doctors make a tiny incision at the base of your wrist and enter from the inside, underneath your skin and muscle. The surgeon uses a cannula with a high-definition camera that allows your surgeon to see exactly where to cut the transverse carpal ligament on a monitor.

The most prominent endoscopic procedure being performed is the SmartRelease® endoscopic procedure. The procedure can be done under sedation or with a local anesthetic where you are wide awake,6 depending on your comfort level and your surgeon’s preference. The SmartRelease procedure typically takes minutes to perform and minimizes post-surgical pain, shortening recovery time7  since there is no cutting in the palm.

Dr. Niacaris, along with many surgeons across the country, performs the SmartRelease® Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release procedure that improves post-operative outcomes.

“Ten years ago, I would do a detailed discussion of the risks and benefits associated with the endoscopic versus open approach and let the patient choose,” Niacaris says. “No one ever chose an open procedure unless they had a prior open procedure, were satisfied with the results, and didn’t want to risk trying something different. Now, I don’t typically discuss open surgery as an option.”