Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Category: Education

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) carpaltunnelis an entrapment syndrome of the median nerve which can cause pain, tingling, numbness, or other unusal sensations in the thumb, first three fingers, and occasionally part of the palm.The median nerve travels underneath a ligament at the base of your wrist through a tunnel-like structure called the carpal tunnel. This passage is rather tight as many tendons which attach to your fingers also pass through here. When this area becomes compressed or irritated, it can disturb the function of your median nerve, and cause the feeling of pain, heat, numbness, or tingling.

Why does it happen?

CTS is a fairly common diagnosis, and an estimated one in two hundred people are diagnosed with CTS in the general population. Various risk factors are associated with developing CTS. The common theme between these factors is that they increase the pressure on the median nerve. Such factors include:

  • Repetitive desk tasks such as typing or using a mouse
  • Sustained positions of the wrist and hand (such as at a desk, or when asleep)
  • Certain conditions such as pregnancy, high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis

The aim of treatment will be to resolve the irritation, desensitize the area, and help you to return to regular activity without aggravating your hand.

The role of Physiotherapy

It is important to remember that pain and injuries often have many contributing factors. Your Physiotherapist will perform a thorough assessment and work with you to find the most effective treatment strategy. Some approaches for treating CTS are:

Physical therapist

  • Education for self-management
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Wrist splinting
  • Modalities such as ultrasound, low-level laser therapy
  • Acupuncture

Often a combination of techniques will be performed to treat the underlying cause(s) and to reduce your pain. If your work or activity is identified as contributing to your symptoms, ergonomic modifications may also be helpful.

Ghasemi-rad, M. (2014). A handy review of carpal tunnel syndrome: From anatomy to diagnosis and treatment. World Journal of Radiology, 6(6), 284.