Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the most common nerve entrapment in the arm. It is caused by a compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel at the wrist. There are a number of treatment options available for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The treatment option that is best for you will depend on a number of factors including the severity of your symptoms, how long you have had the symptoms for, your occupation and functional use of your hand and your own personal preference.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include numbness and tingling in the palm, thumb, index and middle fingers, especially overnight. The symptoms may also extend into forearm or elbow. Other symptoms may include weakness or clumsiness of the hand.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can usually be diagnosed by thorough assessment by your therapist, but nerve conduction and EMG studies can also help with a diagnosis.
Three common treatment options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:
1. Conservative Management
2. Injective Therapy
3. Surgical Management
Our therapists are trained in the conservative management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Conservative treatments that are often trialled in therapy include
Education and advice about activity modification to avoid pressure on the carpal tunnel. Positions that include prolonged wrist flexion may aggravate symptoms and need to be modified.
Compression to manage wrist swelling. Wrist swelling can be in the carpal tunnel, which increases the pressure on the other structures also in there.
Night splinting to keep the wrist in a neutral position. Patients who sleep with their wrists forward may be increasing the pressure on the nerve further.
Nerve gliding exercises. The median nerve is affected during Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and glides of the nerve can help to improve symptoms.
Strengthening exercises for your wrist and grip muscles as symptoms improve
Conservative treatment is usually trialled for 6 weeks and is often is successful at eliminating the symptoms. However, longstanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that has radiation of symptom up into the arm is less likely to respond to conservative treatment.
If there is no improvement in the symptoms, however, it is recommended that surgical opinion be sought by a hand surgeon. They will discuss with you use of corticosteroid injection or surgery for carpal tunnel release to assist in alleviating the symptoms.
If you think you might have carpal tunnel and need some advice, come and see us for an initial appointment. You can book online through our home page or call us on 02 6925 0157.