Carpal tunnel syndromeThe carpel tunnel protects important structures such as blood vessels, tendons, and your median nerve as they pass between your arm and hand.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a hand disorder which can cause pain due to pressure on the median nerve where it runs through the carpal tunnel in your wrist.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel can be caused by anything that leads to the inside of the wrist swelling including pregnancy, repetitive hand movements and arthritis.
Carpal tunnel pressure increases when the contents of the tunnel enlarge such as the tendons, blood vessels or median nerve or the tunnel space decreases for example when the wrist swells after injury, if there is some subluxation of the carpal bones or tenosynovitis or fracture. Both these scenarios put pressure on the median nerve which causes symptoms to be felt.
The median nerve can also be compressed in another place along its course and still produce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
What symptoms can carpal tunnel syndrome give?
There are a number of symptoms that can be experienced with carpal tunnel syndrome including:
- Hand pain or aching
- Pins and needles
- Burning sensation
- Perceived swelling
- Cramping or weakness
How can carpal tunnel syndrome be diagnosed?
Your physiotherapist can carry out a full subjective and objective examination and can perform special tests to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.
You may need to be referred for EMG or nerve conduction studies to see if your nerve electrical impulses are slowed due to a compression within the carpal tunnel or if it is further up the arm.
An ultrasound scan may show median nerve enlargement. X-rays can show co-existing pathologies.
What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for carpal tunnel syndrome?
There are several treatment options depending on your symptoms and the severity of the condition. Your physiotherapist can carry out a full assessment and provide an individual treatment plan. Your physiotherapist will choose the most appropriate methods of treatment depending on your symptoms and response to different treatment methods.
Treatment often includes:
- Heat/ice therapy
- Education and advice
- Soft tissue massage
- Splint advice
- Range of movement exercises
- Advice about rest from aggravating factors
- Graded return to functional/sporting activities
If conservative treatment does not work, you may be referred for surgery. It is important that you do regular physiotherapy post-op in order to return to normal levels of function and to prevent any stiffness or weakness following surgery.
Benefit of physiotherapy for carpal tunnel syndrome?
The overall aim of physiotherapy is to reduce your symptoms and to have you at your best in the shortest space of time. There are several benefits of physiotherapy for carpal tunnel syndrome and the benefits you feel from physiotherapy will depend on your symptoms and treatment goals.
Physiotherapy helps to:
- Reduce pain
- Improve strength
- Improve range of movement
- Prevent re-occurring symptoms
- Improve posture
- Improve dexterity