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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What is the best treatment?

November 18 | 2021
Posted by Erin Mills Physiotherapy

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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be a very debilitating condition thatCarpal tunnel syndrome affects the use of your hand.  It is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the wrist.  The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of the hand.  The median nerve passes through this tunnel, along with tendons and blood vessels.  This small area allowed for the median nerve, makes this a prime location for nerve compression to happen.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome results in a characteristic set of signs and symptoms.  More specifically, these include:

  • Pain, tingling, numbness or burning into the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers
  • Pain on the palm side of the wrist and forearm
  • Weakness into the hand, thumb and fingers
  • Inability to grip strongly through the hand and a tendency to drop things
  • Loss of muscle bulk in the affected hand
  • Sleep disturbances due to night symptoms

These symptoms usually start off without a specific injury.  However, repetitive tasks with the hands and wrists can be a risk factor for this condition.  Commonly, the symptoms usually start off gradually over time and then may continue to worsen and become more constant.  Furthermore, if the pressure on the median nerve continues, then there may be ongoing loss of strength and function in the hand as a result.  Therefore, it is important to seek treatment early to prevent any permanent problems.  At PhysioNow, our Registered Physiotherapists have the expertise to identify and treat this condition to help improve your symptoms.

Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome improve on its own?

Unfortunately, if you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, you will most likely need some form of management to improve your symptoms.  If the condition is not addressed, it may continue to worsen as more and more pressure is placed on the median nerve.  Unfortunately in extreme cases, the condition progresses to the point of needing surgery.  However, surgical correction of carpal tunnel syndrome is not always successful.  In contrast, if the condition is diagnosed early, then physiotherapy treatment can help prevent more serious medical interventions.

How can physiotherapy help treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Physiotherapy is an important way to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.  At PhysioNow, treatment has to focus on certain key aspects to address the concerns with this condition.

 Reducing tension around the carpal tunnel.

-Tightness in the forearm muscles often produces stiffness around the carpal tunnel.
-Additionally stiffness can also be created from reduced movement of the small wrist bones that surround the carpal tunnel.
-A Registered Physiotherapist will help to reduce the tissue and joint stiffness by using hands on techniques to mobilize these areas.

Reducing inflammation in the carpal tunnel.

-Carpal tunnel syndrome commonly occurs from inflammation in the carpal tunnel.
-The inflammation leads to swelling and places pressure on the median nerve.
-Physiotherapists commonly use ultrasound or laser therapy to help alleviate inflammation and swelling through the carpal tunnel.

Acupuncture for pain relief.

-Importantly, acupuncture is another tool that can help to facilitate pain relief and reduce inflammation in the carpal tunnel.
-Specifically, at PhysioNow, we have several physiotherapists who have training in acupuncture
-Therefore, they are able to incorporate acupuncture into the treatment plan for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Bracing to help manage night symptoms.

-During sleep, we may keep our wrists in prolonged bent positions, which will increase the carpal tunnel symptoms and disturb sleep.
-A Registered Physiotherapist can recommend the appropriate brace to help keep the wrists in a more neutral position throughout the night.
-Furthermore, the physiotherapist will also provide the instructions on how to effectively wear the brace.

Exercise program to help manage wrist stiffness.

-A Registered Physiotherapist will prescribe exercises to help manage the stiffness of the wrist muscles and wrist joint.
-Additionally, exercises will also include strengthening to improve the endurance and gripping ability of the hand over time.

Education

-An important component of physiotherapy treatment is the getting the knowledge to best manage the recovery of carpal tunnel syndrome.
-More specifically, physiotherapists will provide lots of information on how to best support your recovery.
-For example, activity modification is an important part of symptom management.

Registered Massage Therapy

-Commonly in the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, there is a lot of potential tissue stiffness through the whole arm, shoulder, neck and upper back.
-Therefore, Registered Massage Therapy is a great option to address these additionally tight areas.

In conclusion, the combination of these different elements of treatment is very effective in helping to improve symptoms and increase function.  However, the timeline of recovery will vary from person to person.  It will depend on how long they have had the condition and the extent of function loss.

At PhysioNow, our Registered Physiotherapists will everything they can to help patients with their recovery and regain their function.  Call today to book your appointment at PhysioNow!

 

 

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