Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition involving a nerve that runs down the front of the forearm and through a tunnel in the wrist where it is being compressed. The compression of this nerve results in pain, tingling and/or numbness in the fingers, palm and can extend into the forearm. CTS is more common in female’s and commonly related to overloading the wrist and/or fingers, previous wrist fracture or injury, or arthritis.
How do I know I have CTS?
When we are assessing a client for CTS it is important to include the following information:
- History of the disease
- Clinical symptoms
- Changes in dimensions of the hand
What if it isn’t CTS?
It is important we also rule out other conditions that may present similarly – these include:
Spinal cord or brachial plexus
Thoracic outlet syndrome
Median nerve compression in the upper arm
Will I make a full recovery from CTS?
In general, those diagnosed with CTS respond well to the various treatment types we offer. Treatment can begin as soon as symptoms start with some simple and common sensical things you can try initially including:
- Taking more-frequent breaks to rest your hands.
- Avoid activities that make symptoms worse.
- Apply cold packs to reduce swelling.
What can help my CTS?
Manual therapy on various parts of the hand and wrist can help improve the symptoms related to CTS. Researchers that reviewed physiotherapy effectiveness on CTS clients state that participants with CTS had reduced median nerve mobility. This lack of mobility stems from the flexor retinaculum (sheath across the wrist) that compresses the median nerve as well as their blood vessels.
This compression over time can lead to the formation of oedema and scar tissue which reduces the mobility of neighbouring tissues further. Within these studies, statistically higher nerve mobility was found in those participants who had CTS and received physiotherapy treatment.
CTS can affect up to 4% of the world’s population. Physiotherapists offer a range of treatment methods and exercises that can help to reduce symptoms or rehabilitate the injured structures. If a period of conservative treatment causes little to no improvement and/or you have a severe diagnosis CTS or CTS with complications then a surgical route may be pursued.
If you have symptoms similar to, or any questions regarding CTS then feel free to contact Vancity Physio and we can get you started back on your journey to health!