New carpal tunnel trial launched at Keele

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Posted on 18 July 2013

Researchers at Keele University have been awarded funding from Arthritis Research UK to find out more about the effectiveness of common treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful, common condition affecting trapped nerves in the hand and wrists.

A team at the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre has been awarded almost £145,000 over five years from the medical research charity to fund the trial, which will involve up 240 patients from the local area, and further afield.

“This is the first study to directly compare commonly-used treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome in primary care setting, and we hope the results of the trial will lead to better treatment for patients,” explained principal investigator Dr Linda Chesterton.

The main aim of the study is to investigate whether steroid injections are more effective in the short-term in reducing symptoms and improving hand function than using a night splint in people with mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. Researchers will also compare the costs of both treatments.

The study will be a multi-centre trial, with patients recruited from GP surgeries, and will examine the effectiveness of both types of treatment over six weeks and six months. Recruitment will start in October.

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects up to six per cent of the adult population over the age of 30, particularly women. It is caused by the trapping of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, causing pain, aching, tingling and numbness in the hand, and leading to sleep problems, difficulty with day-to-day tasks, and reduced capacity to work.

While severe carpal tunnel syndrome can result in partial paralysis of the thumb and permanent loss of sensation if untreated, most cases of mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome can be effectively managed by GPs in primary care.


Arthritis Research UK is the leading authority on arthritis in the UK, conducting scientific and medical research into all types of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions. It is the UK’s fourth largest medical research charity and the only charity solely committed to funding high quality research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis.

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