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Definition | Reasons for Procedure | Possible Complications | What to Expect | Call Your Doctor

Definition

A carpal tunnel injection is a corticosteroid injection into the carpel tunnel area of the wrist.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Reasons for Procedure

The median nerve runs from the forearm into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when this nerve is squeezed at the wrist as it runs through the carpel tunnel. This results in pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness in your hand and wrist. Pain may also radiate up your arm.

Steroid injections into the carpel tunnel area can help improve symptoms for three months or longer. You may not need further treatment.

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is risk-free. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications which may include:

  • Infection
  • No improvement in symptoms

What to Expect

Your doctor may ask you what medicines you take and if you have any allergies to medicines.

You will be given an injection of local anesthetic to numb the area.

Your doctor will fill a needle with corticosteroid medicine. This medicine calms inflammation. Your palm will be facing upward. The inside of your wrist will be cleaned. The needle will be inserted into the carpal tunnel area of the wrist, and the medicine will be injected.

A few minutes

You may feel some pain after the anesthetic wears off.

Your doctor will bandage the injection site. You and your doctor will discuss what to expect in the coming days.

If recommended by your doctor:

  • Apply ice or a cold pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes each time. Do not apply ice directly to your skin. First, wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel, then place it on your skin.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medicine.
  • Avoid strenuous activity involving joint for 48 hours

Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water. Follow your doctor's instructions .

Call Your Doctor

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

http://www.aaos.org/

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Arthritis Society of Canada

http://www.arthritis.ca/

College of Family Physicians of Canada

http://www.cfpc.ca/

References:

Carpal tunnel steroid injection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated July 2009. Accessed August 8, 2009.

Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm. Accessed. Accessed February 28, 2007.

Joint and soft tissue injections. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/774.xml. Accessed. Accessed February 28, 2007.

Last reviewed September 2013 by Teresa Briedwell, DPT, OCS

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.