Although corticosteroids come in oral (tablets or
syrup) form, injections (shots) are most commonly used for treating
carpal tunnel syndrome.
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
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
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.
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.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor if you are have a corticosteroid injection and you have:
Call your doctor if you are taking oral (by mouth) corticosteroids and you have:
One common side effect of injected corticosteroids is pain and swelling the first day or two after the
injection. It may help to apply ice at home for 15 to 20 minutes.
Common side effects of oral corticosteroids 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
The standard of
practice is that steroid injections should be given only 3 or 4 times a year in
a single joint area.
Injection of any
substance into a joint or tendon has a very small risk of harm, including
damage to a tendon, ligament, or nerve; bleeding into the tissue; or infection.
Although these rarely happen, your doctor will probably mention the
possibilities to you before you get an injection into a joint.
Nobody likes needles. But experienced doctors can usually do a corticosteroid injection in under 30 seconds. It does hurt, but it's quick.
Some doctors believe that corticosteroids should not be given to
children or to women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
infection is suspected, shots are usually not given.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
CitationsAshworth N (2011). Carpal tunnel syndrome, search date
July 2011. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com
October 2, 2012
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Herbert von Schroeder, MD, MSc, FRCSC - Hand and Microvascular Surgery
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