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Common Conditions

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Do You Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and arm. The condition occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand, that is the median nerve is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist.

This syndrome occurs when the tunnel becomes narrowed or when tissues surrounding the flexor tendons swell, putting pressure on the median nerve. These tissues are called the synovium. Normally, the synovium lubricates the tendons, making it easier to move the fingers.

When the synovium swells, it takes up space in the carpal tunnel and over time, crowds the nerve. This abnormal pressure on the nerve can result in pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand.

Most cases of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are caused by a combination of factors. Studies show that women and older people are more likely to develop the condition. Other risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome include heredity, repetitive hand use, hand and wrist position, pregnancy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid gland imbalance are conditions that are associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, burning, pain, occasional shock-like sensations that radiate to the thumb and index, middle, and ring fingers, pain or tingling that may travel up the forearm toward the shoulder, weakness and clumsiness in the hand and dropping things. In most cases, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome begin gradually without a specific injury. Many patients find that their symptoms come and go at first. However, as the condition worsens, symptoms may occur more frequently or may persist for longer periods of time.

Physical therapy can help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It is recommended as it helps to regain mobility and flexibility as well as help the wrist get stronger. A physical therapist will apply manual therapy techniques that include mobilisation of soft tissue, carpal bone and the median nerve. Modalities such as therapeutic ultrasound therapy and splinting will also be utilized to assist with treatment. Strengthening exercises, stretches, lifestyle recommendations and ergonomic modifications will then be prescribed when treatment progresses. If in doubt, seek professional advice.