Carpal tunnel syndrome: What it is and how a physiotherapist can help
Do you ever experience tingling, numbness, or pain in your hands and wrists? You might be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) — a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. At first it may feel like occasional irritation, weakness or fatigue when using your hands for repetitive tasks, but if left untreated CTS can lead to permanent nerve damage. But don’t worry; this is where physiotherapy comes in! With proper diagnosis and individualized treatment plans tailored by a physiotherapist experienced in hand physiotherapy, you can put an end to the painful symptoms once and for all. In this blog post we will discuss what CTS is and how physiotherapy helps manage its symptoms.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that affects the wrist and hand. It occurs when the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway in the wrist, becomes compressed or irritated due to overuse or injury. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling, weakness and pain in the hands and wrists. Don't suffer with hand pain any longer.
Anatomy of the Carpal Tunnel
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway located in the wrist. It is formed by carpal bones, ligaments and tendons. The carpal tunnel houses the median nerve (blue arrow), which connects your forearm to your hand and allows for sensory and motor functions. The carpal tunnel also provides a pathway for tendons (blue and red dots) that help the fingers move.
What's carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the carpal tunnel becomes compressed or irritated. This can happen when the finger tendons in the tunnel become thickened or swollen and press on the nerve. This can cause inflammation, swelling and pain in the wrist and hand. Activities like repetitive typing, assembly line work or gripping objects can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome over time. In addition, carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in pregnant women due to hormonal changes in their body.
What does carpal tunnel hand pain feel like?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause a variety of symptoms including numbness, tingling, weakness and pain in the hands and wrists. The most common symptom is a feeling of pins and needles along the palm of your hand to your thumb, index and middle finger. This pain happens when the median nerve becomes compressed. You may also feel pain that radiates up to your elbow and shoulder.
What aggravates carpal tunnel hand pain?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is most often caused by repetitive hand movements such as typing, playing a musical instrument or playing video games. Other activities that can aggravate carpal tunnel pain include gardening and activities that require frequent use of vibrating tools. Poor posture or sleeping in an awkward position can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Stress may contribute to carpal tunnel pain as well.
Can anything else cause hand pain other than carpal tunnel?
It is important to distinguish carpal tunnel syndrome from other conditions that cause hand pain. It is possible for carpal tunnel syndrome to occur alongside other medical conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis or a pinched nerve in the neck.
How a physiotherapist can help carpal tunnel syndrome?
Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. A physiotherapist experienced in orthopaedic assessment can help you determine the cause of your hand pain by performing a physical examination and taking a detailed history. Our physiotherapists can assess your condition and create a personalized treatment plan to reduce your pain and symptoms. Through joint mobilizations and soft tissue mobilization, we can reduce inflammation and increase the carpal tunnel space to release pressure from the median nerve. We also provide therapeutic exercises to improve range of motion, muscle strength, flexibility and coordination in the wrist, hand and arm. Treatment may also include shockwave, exercise therapy, massage, ultrasound and education about ergonomics and posture. With the help of your physiotherapist, you can find relief from carpal tunnel pain and return to normal activities.