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Effectiveness of Oral Pain Medication and Corticosteroid Injections for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Systematic Review

Published:April 05, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2018.03.003

      Abstract

      Objective

      To present an evidence-based overview of the effectiveness of oral pain medication and corticosteroid injections to treat carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

      Data Sources

      The Cochrane Library, PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, and Physiotherapy Evidence Database were searched for relevant systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

      Study Selection

      Two reviewers independently applied the inclusion criteria to select potential studies.

      Data Extraction

      Two reviewers independently extracted the data on pain (visual analog scale), function or recovery, and assessed the methodologic quality.

      Data Synthesis

      A best-evidence synthesis was performed to summarize the results of the included studies. Four reviews and 9 RCTs were included. For oral pain medication, strong and moderate evidence was found for the effectiveness of oral steroids versus placebo in the short term. Moderate evidence was found in favor of oral steroids versus splinting in the short term. No evidence was found for the effectiveness of oral steroids in the long term. For corticosteroid injections, strong evidence was found in favor of a corticosteroid injection versus a placebo injection and moderate evidence was found in favor of corticosteroid injection versus oral steroids in the short term. Also, in the short term, moderate evidence was found in favor of a local versus a systematic corticosteroid injection. Higher doses of corticosteroid injections seem to be more effective in the midterm; however, the benefits of corticosteroid injections were not maintained in the long term.

      Conclusions

      The reviewed evidence supports that oral steroids and corticosteroid injections benefit patient with CTS particularly in the short term. Although a higher dose of steroid injections seems to be more effective in the midterm, the benefits of oral pain medication and corticosteroid injections were not maintained in the long term.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      CI (confidence interval), CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome), FSS (Fatigue Severity Scale), GSS (Global Symptom Scale), OR (odds ratio), PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database), RCT (randomized controlled trial), SSS (Symptom Severity Scale), WMD (weighted mean difference)
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