Physical Therapy Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One of the most common nerve disorders experienced today is Carpet Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), which is a squeezing of the median nerve as it moves into the hand

The carpal tunnel is situated on the palm side of the wrist of the hand just under the surface of the skin. Fine flexor tendons and the median nerve run through the carpet tunnel. When swollen tissues cause the median nerve to be compressed, it blocks or slows the nerve impulses from going through the nerve. The median nerve gives feeling and function to the hand, so when it is swollen it can cause the hand to be weak, lose function and lose feeling.

carpal tunnel compressed nerve

What Can Cause Carpal Tunnel

Excessive pressure on your wrist and the median nerve can cause pain in your carpal tunnel. 

The most typical reason for this inflammation is a fundamental medical issue that causes swelling in the wrist and can obstruct blood flow. A few of the most common conditions connected with carpal tunnel syndrome are:

  • Fractures to the wrist (or trauma)
  • High blood pressure
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disorder
  • Fluid retention from menopause or pregnancy

When the wrist is repeatedly overextended, is can make carpal tunnel syndrome worse. Repetitive moving of the wrist can promote the compressing and swelling of the median nerve. This can happen when:

  1. You keep a certain position of your wrist while using your mouse or keyboard.
  2. You experience lengthy exposure of vibrations while using power tools or hand tools.
  3. You have consistent movements like piano playing, typing, or a sport which overextend your wrists.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of CTS

Usually, the symptoms first are felt in both or one hand at nighttime with the dominant hand typically affected first with the harshest symptoms. Symptoms begin gradually and include:

  • Frequent tingling or numbness of the fingers, most often the index, middle finger and thumb.
  • Sometimes waking up with the feeling to “shake out” the wrist or hand.
  • Tingling during certain activities like driving, talking on the phone, or reading a book.
  • Feeling a loss of strength in your hand making it harder to do small tasks or grasp an object.
  • Some severe cases include not being able to detect hot or cold items with your hands

Usually, the symptoms first are felt in both or one hand at nighttime with the dominant hand typically affected first with the harshest symptoms. Symptoms begin gradually and include:

  • Frequent tingling or numbness of the fingers, most often the index, middle finger and thumb.
  • Sometimes waking up with the feeling to “shake out” the wrist or hand.
  • Tingling during certain activities like driving, talking on the phone, or reading a book.
  • Feeling a loss of strength in your hand making it harder to do small tasks or grasp an object.
  • Some severe cases include not being able to detect hot or cold items with your hands

 

Diagnosing and treating CTS is vital to prevent permanent damage of the median nerve.

 

Your doctor can help rule out other conditions that mimic CTS. Each finger should be examined for sensitivity and the muscles near the bottom of the hand should be tested for signs of atrophy and for strength.  Other diagnostic testing may include:

  • The Tinel test where the physician presses or taps on the median nerve to see if there is tingling in the fingers or if a shock-type sensation happens.
  • The Phalen test is having the person hold their arms upright while pointing their fingers down and holding the backs of the hands together to see if there is any numbness or tingling.
  • Your physician may also test you by having you do movements that instigate symptoms.
  • An electrodiagnostic test can help confirm a CTS diagnosis. Electrodes are arranged on the wrist and hand with small electric shocks applied while the speed of the transmitted nerve impulses are measured.
  • An electromyography test involves a find needle inserted in the muscle while the electrical activity is seen on a screen to ascertain any level of damage to the median nerve.
  • Also, an ultrasound can detect an unusual size of the median nerve.

Carpal Tunnel Treatments and Pain Relief

Carpet Tunnel syndrome treatment is based on how serious the case is and if there is any nerve damage.

After an evaluation, your expert ALLCARE Physical Therapist in Brooklyn, New York, can offer a treatment plan based on your specific needs.

For early onset, carpet tunnel pain relief can be provided through physical therapy treatment, effectively reducing the symptoms and helping get your back to your daily activities. Depending on your specific case and causes of CTS, treatment can include education and therapy of:

 

  • Effective upper back and neck posture to avoid slouching and forward head.
  • Adjusting write positions to avoid prolonged bent wrist positions.
  • Stretch breaks during your daily routine.
  • Safety using of tools, sharp utensils or other items if your sensory skills have changed.
  • Stretching exercises to increase hand, wrist and finger flexibility.
  • Exercises to increase strength to the muscles of your forearm, fingers and hand.
  • Exercises to build more strength in your postural back and trunk muscles, if needed.

For more severe cases, you may be required to have surgery. Physical therapy treatment is vital after surgery to help restore strength to your hand and wrist and to learn to adjust your habits that might have led to your initial CTS symptoms.

 

Researchers in Spain did a study with 120 women with CTS and learned that the women who received physical therapy had less pain and improved function much sooner than the women who opted for surgery

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Allcare Physical Therapy
1213 Avenue P, Brooklyn, NY

Monday8:30 AM–7:00 PM
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