Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and weakness in the wrist and hand. CTS can affect the use of the entire arm. It is caused by pressure on the nerve at the base of the palm (median nerve). Because of the constant demands people place on their hands and wrists, surgery may be needed when symptoms are severe. For many people with CTS, however, physiotherapy can relieve pain and numbness. It often can help restore normal hand, wrist, and arm use without the need for surgery.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist. This tunnel protects the median nerve and the tendons that bend your fingers. When the tunnel narrows due to injury or other conditions, or the tendons and nerves in the tunnel swell and take up more space, pressure on the nerve increases. A wrist fracture or arthritis can cause the size of the tunnel to become smaller. The tendons or nerves can enlarge due to either inflammation or tendon changes with age. The most affected fingers are the thumb, index, middle, and sometimes, the ring finger. If this increased pressure continues over a long period, it can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome sufferers will usually experience the following symptoms in their hand or fingers:
- hand pain or aching
- pins and needles
- weakness or cramping
- perceived swelling
The symptoms are usually worse at night, and as the condition progresses the symptoms become more noticeable during the day. Symptoms often are worse when grasping heavy objects, using a computer, holding a mobile phone and gripping anything for a long period of time. Eventually, you will notice muscle atrophy of the thenar (thumb) muscles and loss of hand function or clumsiness.
The following health conditions also may lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in some people:
- Inflammation and swelling of the tendons of the wrist
- Injuries to the wrist (strain, sprain, dislocation, fracture)
- Hormone or metabolic changes (pregnancy, menopause, thyroid imbalance)
- Fluid retention
- Medications (such as steroids or chemotherapy)
- Degenerative and rheumatoid arthritis
How can physiotherapy help me?
Physiotherapy treatment can be effective to reduce your symptoms and help you get back to your everyday activities. Depending on the causes of your CTS, your physiotherapy treatment may include patient education, stretching and strengthening exercises, wearing a splint, acupuncture and hot/cold treatments.
If you have been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or you think you may have it our physiotherapists at Home Physio Group can create a personalised program for you to help you with pain relief and recovery.
For more information please contact us on 0330 335 1016 or alternatively please fill out our contact sheet and we will get back to you.