Compare the options

This table compares the different treatment options. This table is also included in the summary available to you after conclusion of the decision aid. 

  Have surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome Try other treatments
What is usually involved?

You have an injection of local anesthetic, so you are awake but will not have pain after the shot. You can have sedation if you prefer.

You go home on the same day

You can use your hand for nearly everything even though the cut hurts.

You need to avoid lifting heavy objects for one month.

If numbness wakes you at night, wearing a splint at night can help you sleep.

Some doctors may offer you a cortisone injection for possible temporary relief.

If you are pregnant, you may feel better—at least temporarily — after your child is born.

What are the benefits?

Stops the numbness that comes and goes and makes it difficult to sleep.

Stops further nerve damage.

Avoid the discomfort, costs, and risks of surgery.
What are the risks and limitations?

If your fingers are constantly numb, or you have any muscle loss or weakness, these should be considered permanent nerve damage that is not expected to improve after surgery.

The worst thing that could happen during surgery is an injury to the nerve. It is estimated to occur in less than 1 of 1,000 surgeries.

Infection and other problems are uncommon.

Even if you can control the symptoms, you need to make sure that you do not develop constant numbness or any muscle loss or weakness prior to surgery because those changes are usually permanent.

Injections hurt and carry a small risk of nerve damage.