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Peripheral neuropathy

Are steroid injections better than wrist splints for carpal tunnel syndrome?

The clinical and cost-effectiveness of corticosteroid injection versus night splints for carpal tunnel syndrome (INSTINCTS trial): an open-label, parallel group, randomised controlled trial.

Chesterton LS, Blagojevic-Bucknall M, Burton C, et al.

Lancet 2018; 392:1423-1433.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

To our knowledge, the comparative effectiveness of commonly used conservative treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome has not been evaluated previously in primary care. We aimed to compare the clinical and cost-effectiveness of night splints with a corticosteroid injection with regards to reducing symptoms and improving hand function in patients with mild or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome.

METHODS:

We did this randomised, open-label, pragmatic trial in adults (≥18 years) with mild or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome recruited from 25 primary and community musculoskeletal clinics and services. Patients with a new episode of idiopathic mild or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome of at least 6 weeks’ duration were eligible. We randomly assigned (1:1) patients (permutated blocks of two and four by site) with an online web or third party telephone service to receive either a single injection of 20 mg methylprednisolone acetate (from 40 mg/mL) or a night-resting splint to be worn for 6 weeks. Patients and clinicians could not be masked to the intervention. The primary outcome was the overall score of the Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BCTQ) at 6 weeks. We used intention-to-treat analysis, with multiple imputation for missing data, which was concealed to treatment group allocation. The trial is registered with the European Clinical Trials Database, number 2013-001435-48, and ClinicalTrial.gov, number NCT02038452.

FINDINGS:

Between April 17, 2014, and Dec 31, 2016, 234 participants were randomly assigned (118 to the night splint group and 116 to the corticosteroid injection group), of whom 212 (91%) completed the BCTQ at 6 weeks. The BCTQ score was significantly better at 6 weeks in the corticosteroid injection group (mean 2·02 [SD 0·81]) than the night splint group (2·29 [0·75]; adjusted mean difference -0·32; 95% CI -0·48 to -0·16; p=0·0001). No adverse events were reported.

INTERPRETATION:

A single corticosteroid injection shows superior clinical effectiveness at 6 weeks compared with night-resting splints, making it the treatment of choice for rapid symptom response in mild or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome presenting in primary care.

This article is cited in the neurochecklist:

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS): treatments

Abstract link

By BruceBlaus. Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014“. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

By Ibrahim Imam

I am a UK Neurologist keen on general neurology, but with an interest in neuromuscular diseases. I maintain the neurology searchable database, www.neurochecklists.com. I also blog at www.theneurologylounge.com. I share and discuss current issues around clinical neurology. I hope you find my blogs enlightening, practical, and even entertaining.

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