Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when a nerve called the median nerve becomes pinched.
The median nerve goes from your forearm through a passageway called the carpal tunnel in your wrist, to your hand on the palm side of your wrist. It delivers sensations and signals to the thumb and fingers (except the pinky finger).
When the nerve becomes compressed, you can experience numbness, burning, tingling sensations, or pain in your wrist, hand and fingers, and even in your arm.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Any activity that inflicts abnormal pressure on the median nerve can bring on the problem. Even how you hold your head can affect your neck, shoulder or elbow, causing pain in the wrist.
Risk factors to be aware of that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Repetitive activities such as:
- Typing on a computer or writing
- Working with tools or on a cash register
- Lifting weights
- Swinging a baseball bat or golf club
- Metabolic diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
- Pregnancy (due to fluid retention; it is generally resolved after childbirth)
- A wrist fracture or dislocation
- Thyroid disorders
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness, tingling, or dull pain in your wrist or thumb and fingers (except the little finger)
- Pain that starts in your wrist and extends to your hand
- Pain that extends up past your arm
- Inability or difficulty flexing your fingers or turning your wrist inward
- Difficulty and pain doing regular tasks like holding a book, phone, writing, driving or cooking
- Weakness in the hand
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?
If caught early, carpal tunnel syndrome can be resolved through physiotherapy without resorting to surgery.
Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs
While carpal tunnel syndrome can be serious and require surgery if severe, physiotherapy can be a helpful next step on the road to healing afterward.
Physiotherapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain and swelling, and improving strength and range of motion to avoid long-term damage.
It is very beneficial if your carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed early. At pt Health, you’ll receive a thorough assessment which addresses the source of your problem.
Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy for carpal tunnel syndrome can include:
- Exercises and stretches including behaviour or habit changes
- Wrist braces or splints
- Hand therapy
- Ultrasound therapy
Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Go Away on its Own?
Probably not. If your condition does not improve within two weeks, see a physiotherapist. If left untreated, the condition will eventually cause permanent damage to the nerve and underlying muscles, and surgery may be required.
Can You Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
As carpal tunnel syndrome is the most frequently diagnosed form of nerve entrapment and can be caused by repetitive work tasks or hobbies, you can work to prevent it by:
- Taking frequent breaks
- Practicing good ergonomics (such as using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse)
- Modifying how you perform repetitive tasks
- Wrist stretches
Book with a Physiotherapist Today
Concerned about symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.