What's the success of a single corticosteroid injection for carpal tunnel syndrome?


An study published recently in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, by Dr. Phil Blazar and colleagues from Boston, addresses this question.
Here are the take home conclusions:
1. A single injection achieved symptom relief in 79% of patients at 6 weeks, 53% at 6 months---and  31% at 12 months
2.  Patients with Diabetes were 2.6 x more likely to report recurrence of symtoms at 12 months
3. Neither age,  preinjection symptom duration, nor preinjection electrophysiologic severity predicted symptom recurrence (mild v moderate, since severe cases were excluded).

The take home message is that a corticosteroid injection appears to be a reasonable option for decreasing symptoms of mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome, but at one year only one-third of patients  still experienced relief. Whether to move  to surgery when symptoms recur  or to administer  a second injection was not addressed in this study.

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