PTD0315_HandCarpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) affects as many as one in 20 Americans. It occurs when the median nerve—the nerve that controls movement and sensation in the palm of the hand, thumb and fingers—is compressed as it travels through the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway in the wrist formed by bones on the bottom and sides, along with a ligament that forms the top of the tunnel.

The median nerve shares the carpal tunnel with several tendons. If these tendons become swollen by extensive finger use and wrist flexion, the compressed median nerve may cause a feeling of numbness or “pins and needles” in the fingers and wrist. Given the prevalence of technology in all aspects of life and the strong impact that excessive keyboard and computer use can have on the median nerve, the incidence of CTS is likely to increase. CTS is common in professions such as assembly-line work and jobs requiring the use of hand tools, especially those that vibrate. Some leisure activities, such as sewing, sports such as racquetball and handball, and playing string instruments such as the violin, can also cause CTS.

One of the most basic treatment options for CTS involves simply making a change in posture. Because all your joints are linked, improving your overall body posture will help keep your hands and wrists properly aligned. Avoid keeping your wrists bent unnecessarily. You should also take regular “stretch breaks” during your daily routines to keep your joints limber. Sleeping with a night splint can help reduce symptoms while training your wrist muscles to align properly.

We can develop a course of therapy to treat CTS that may include:

  • gliding exercises that move your fingers in specified patterns to help tendons and nerves move through your carpal tunnel
  • manual therapy to release tight tendons and muscles
  • splinting to immobilize the wrist and relieve pain

Before engaging in any lifestyle changes, consult us. We can design a program to help you avoid further injury. If undertaking lifestyle changes and exercises does not lead to the desired results, surgery may be the best solution. After surgery, a regimen of physical therapy will help you restore flexibility and range of motion. Make sure you have the best information and guidance possible.

March PTEDigest Includes:

Stiff Back: Not a Good Way to Start the Day
Taking an Arch Look at Foot Pain
The Light at the End of the Carpal Tunnel
“As Seen on TV” Might Not Work for You
Ultrasound: You’ll Like What You Hear

Download PTEDigest for March