Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that affects the hand and wrist. It occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve, which travels from the forearm to the hand and passes through a narrow passage called the carpal tunnel located in the wrist. This compression may cause various symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness in the hand and fingers.
What causes CTS?
1. Repetitive Movements
Activities that involve repetitive motions of the hand and wrist, including computer work, manual labour jobs, carrying a baby, and sports can increase the likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome.
2. Improper Wrist Positioning
Maintaining a flexed wrist position for an extended period within the carpal tunnel, especially during activities that require tools or playing musical instruments.
3. Anatomical Factors
Certain anatomical characteristics, such as having a smaller carpal tunnel or certain wrist fractures, can increase the likelihood of developing CTS.
4. Brachial Plexus Dysfunction
Tension on the brachial plexus at locations away from the wrist, such around the collar bone due to tightness around the neck and shoulder, can contribute to sensitivity and dysfunction of the median nerve.
How does physiotherapy Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Resolves the Root Cause
During the assessment, your therapist will determine the extent of how your carpal tunnel syndrome has manifested and affected your function. Your therapist will then provide treatments, prescribe exercises, and educate you on how to reverse your symptoms.
1. Manual Therapy
Myofascial release: to reduce pain, tightness, and inflammation of the muscles, joints, nerves, and fascia of the affected areas.
Joint mobilization: to promote smooth joint movement and mobility of the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck, and other affected areas.
2. Biomechanical Optimization
Postural conditioning: corrects poor posture and improves alignment of the neck, shoulder, elbow, and wrist.
Movement pattern conditioning: optimizing wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck mechanics to reduce tension on the median nerve and brachial plexus.
3. Exercise Therapy
Stretching: to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension around the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck.
Strengthening: to improve the activation and stability of the muscles that support the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and/or neck.
Home exercise program: individualized exercise prescription to restore optimal and balanced movement.
Taping: to reduce the tension on muscles that affect the carpal tunnel.
Acupuncture: use of thin needles to improve local and systemic function, regulate the nervous system, and promote the body’s natural healing processes.
Heat and cold therapy: to manage reduce pain and tension or control inflammation.
Electrostimulation: use of electrical currents to stimulate muscles and reduce pain.
Ultrasound: use of high-frequency sound waves to produce deep tissue heating to reduce muscle tension, fascial tension, and inflammation.
Laser therapy: to improve blood flow, reduce pain and inflammation, and promote tissue healing.
Recommendations regarding lifestyle and activity modifications, ergonomics, posture, and sleeping position to help reduce load, risk of recurrence, and further injury.