Although corticosteroids come in oral (tablets or syrup) form, injections (shots) are most commonly used for treating carpal tunnel syndrome.
Corticosteroids relieve inflammation.
Corticosteroids are given to relieve inflammation due to carpal tunnel syndrome when other forms of treatment (such as rest, using a wrist splint, or using anti-inflammatories) have not helped relieve pain.
Some doctors believe that corticosteroids should not be given to children, nor to women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
If infection is suspected, shots are usually not given.
Short-term oral corticosteroid treatment has been shown to reduce carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.1 It is not clear how long the effect of the oral corticosteroids lasts.
Corticosteroid shots have been shown to reduce carpal tunnel symptoms.1 But although they often provide temporary relief (for several weeks or more), they do not typically provide permanent relief from carpal tunnel symptoms.
If three shots over several months have not helped to relieve pain, more shots are not likely to help and may cause harm. Even if the shots help to relieve pain, the number of shots should be limited. Talk to your doctor about corticosteroid shots.
Corticosteroids (oral or injections) have serious side effects and must be used with caution. Side effects include:
Although they may relieve pain and inflammation, corticosteroids can also slow healing and weaken tendons and bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis). Other side effects of corticosteroid injection include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Other forms of treatment to relieve pain and inflammation (such as rest, ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and splints) are usually tried before corticosteroids are used.
Last Revised: October 21, 2010
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