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Medications for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Prescription MedicinesOver-the-counter Medicines
Medicines are used to ease swelling in the carpal tunnel. Here are the basics about each of the medicines below. Only common problems with them are listed.
  • Prednisone
  • Prednisolone
  • Triamcinolone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Indomethacin
  • Naproxen
  • Celecoxib
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Piroxicam
  • Sulindac

Prescription Medicines

Glucocorticoids
These medicines can help to ease swelling. They can have side effects when taken for a long time. This is why they are often used for a short time.
Common names are:
  • Prednisone
  • Prednisolone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Triamcinolone
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs also help to ease swelling. They can be taken for a long time, but they do have side effects. There are many types of NSAIDs. Each is slightly different.
Some common names are:
  • Indomethacin
  • Naproxen
  • Celecoxib
NSAIDs can cause problems in people who have had an ulcer or gastritis.
"Cortisone" Injection
A cortisone injection delivers synthetic glucocorticoid medicine into the carpal tunnel. It can ease swelling and pressure. It may be used when other methods do not ease pain.
Bleeding and infection can happen from injections. This is rare.

Over the Counter Medicines

Lower doses of NSAIDs are:
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Piroxicam
NSAIDs can cause problems in people who have had an ulcer or gastritis.

References

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Clinical Practice Guideline on the Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. AAOS 2016 Feb.
Carpal tunnel syndrome. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: https://handcare.assh.org/Anatomy/Details-Page/ArticleID/27950/Carpal-Tunnel-Syndrome. Published 2015. Accessed November 20, 2019.
Carpal tunnel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/carpal-tunnel-syndrome. Updated June 24, 2019. Accessed November 20, 2019.
Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal%5Ftunnel/detail%5Fcarpal%5Ftunnel.htm. Updated August 13, 2019. Accessed November 20, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019
  • Update Date: 11/06/2020
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