SPECIAL COMMUNICATION| Volume 102, ISSUE 11, P2261-2268.e2, November 2021

Meta-synthesis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment Options: Developing Consolidated Clinical Treatment Recommendations to Improve Practice

Published:April 28, 2021DOI:


      • Rigorous guidelines strongly support 6 treatments for CTS.
      • Fifteen of 48 conservative treatments for CTS were conditionally supported.
      • Pharmaceuticals/supplements and alternative treatments were not supported for CTS.
      • Information on effective dosages and concomitant treatments in CTS care is limited.


      Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) treatment contains ambiguities across and within disciplines. This meta-synthesis of professional guidelines consolidates clinical treatment recommendations for CTS treatment and classifies them by strength of evidence. We conducted a search of Google, Google Scholar, and PubMed for published clinical treatment recommendations for CTS. A systematic hand search was completed to identify additional professional organizations with published recommendations. We extracted any mentioned treatment from all sources but developed our final consolidated clinical treatment recommendations only from select rigorous guidelines based on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) criteria for trustworthy guidelines. We translated rating systems of the primary guidelines into a universal rating system to classify recommendations for consolidated clinical treatment recommendations. Our search yielded 30 sources that mentioned a total of 55 CTS treatments. Six of the sources met the IOM inclusion criteria. These primary guidelines provided recommendations for 46 of the 55 treatments, which were consolidated into 12 broad treatment categories. Surgery, positioning, and steroids were strongly supported. Conservative treatments provided by rehabilitation professionals were conditionally supported. Pharmaceuticals, supplements, and alternative treatments were not generally supported. CTS is a complex condition with a wide variety of treatments provided by a multitude of disciplines. Our consolidated clinical treatment recommendations offer a comprehensive outline of available treatments for CTS and contributes to the process of developing best practices for its treatment.


      List of abbreviations:

      CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome), IOM (Institute of Medicine), NEATS (National Guideline Clearinghouse Extent of Adherence to Trustworthy Standards)
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