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The carpal tunnel is the passageway in the wrist, made up of the arching carpal bones and the ligament connecting the pillars of the arch (the transverse carpal ligament).

Carpal tunnel syndrome can range from a minor inconvenience to a disabling condition, depending on its cause and persistence. Many cases of CTS are mild, and some resolve on their own, so the treatment will be dependent on the severity of each individual case. It is critical to begin treating the early phases of carpal tunnel syndrome, before the damage progresses. If possible, the patient should avoid activities at work or home that may aggravate the condition.

Conservative treatment seems to work best for carpal tunnel syndrome in men under 40, and is less effective in young women. The affected hand and wrist should have rest for at least two weeks. This allows the swollen, inflamed tissues to shrink, and relieves pressure on the median nerve; ice may also provide relief.

Exercise could help, in the form of a supervised hand-and-wrist strengthening exercise program offered by physical or occupational therapists. One study found that most people with carpal tunnel syndrome felt an improvement after two months of physical therapy that included exercises to improve balance and posture.

Medications are also a choice for carpal tunnel syndrome treatment in some patients. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used to treat the condition. Available over the counter or by prescription, they fight inflammation or swelling and relieve pain.

Cortisone injections into the area may lessen the swelling, ease pressure on the nerve, and relieve some symptoms for CTS.

Vitamin deficiencies, especially of vitamin B6, have been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. One study supported this association and reported that high levels of vitamin B6 were associated with fewer CTS symptoms.

Surgery is the best treatment option in more severe cases, as it helps widen the carpal tunnel. Surgery consists of releasing the ligament that forms the tight roof of the carpal tunnel. This opens and widens the tunnel, allowing plenty of room for everything in it and relieving pressure on the nerve, resolving the problematic symptoms of CTS. There are several methods to this, but the standard surgery involves a 2-3 inch incision.

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