Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition associated with the compression of the median nerve as it runs through the wrist.
These nerves run through a passage that’s referred to as the ‘carpal tunnel.’ There are many tendons that also run through this tunnel and if the sheaths around these tendons become inflamed it causes swelling.
This swelling equates to the space in this tunnel being reduced, which can compress the symptoms and in some cases lead to nerve damage.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
You may wish to speak with your myotherapist about suitable carpal tunnel syndrome treatment if you observe any of the following symptoms in your thumb, index, middle and half of the ring finger:
Pins and needles .
Pain, particularly at night .
Shooting pains from the wrist .
Radiated or referred pain into the arm and shoulder .
Weakness of the hand.
What are the Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by a combination of factors
Overuse injury - the tendons in the carpal tunnel can become irritated and inflamed by awkward postures or repetitive hand movements. People who use their hands repetitively in their day-to-day activities, such as spending large periods of time typing or doing assembly line work, are more at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Arthritis - various types of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis, can cause inflammation and swelling.
Pregnancy - the hormones associated with pregnancy cause general fluid retention, which can compress the nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome triggered by pregnancy usually resolves soon after birth.
Wrist fractures - bone fragments can irritate the tendon sheath or reduce the amount of space in the carpal tunnel.
Neck Tightness - Tight neck muscles and poor head posture can also compromise the nerves of the neck to create problems throughout the path of the median nerve.
Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
While a number of treatments are available, it’s also important to rest and avoid doing anything to aggravate the cause. Taking care of yourself and making the necessary lifestyle changes will enable your treatment and healing to be more effective.
These treatments are popular with patients as they are non-evasive, drug free and don’t involve surgery. Severe cases of carpal tunnel may be treated with cortisone injections or even surgery, but it is highly recommended that these less invasive treatment options be explored first.
You may wish to discuss the different treatments with your myotherapist. These treatments can include:
Soft tissue massage to forearm muscles and wrist ligaments
A careful soft massage treats the inflammation, pain and numbness by softening the tense muscles and scare tissue, and lengthening the muscles in your hand, wrist, forearm, as well as surrounding areas such as your upper arm, shoulder and neck. Even though the pain or discomfort is experienced in the hand or forearm area, many patients have imbalances in other nearby muscles. As the nerve which provides the numb/tingling/pain sensation originates in the neck and shoulder, it’s important to treat the entire nerve.
Patients feel relief after their first session, however to achieve long term results we usually perform at least three sessions of massage.
Dry needling - Joint mobilization to the wrist and thumb
Dry needling can relieve the pressure on taut bands which are adding to the compression of the median nerve. This treatment adds strength to the supporting muscles which are compressing the nerves in your forearm and causing compression in your carpal tunnel. It also provides positive long term outcomes such as reduced pain, increase in strength and solving the problem which caused the underlying symptoms.
Flexibility and strengthening exercises prescribed by your Elite Myotherapist
Performing suitable flexibility and strengthening exercises will enable you to manage carpal tunnel syndrome, gain strength and avoid the need for surgery. Our Myotherapists will create a personalised management plan for your needs and demonstrate a range of exercises to aid your rehabilitation.
Electrotherapy modalities such as TENS
Treatment from a TENS machine can help you to manage and recover from the pain and discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome. TENS machines can reduce your perception of pain, by blocking pain signals from reaching your brain. This is conducted by sending gentle electrical impulses to your nerve endings through electrode pads. This creates a tingling feeling much akin to a massage, which replaces the pain.
TENS machines also enable you to manage pain by releasing endorphins (a natural pain killer released by your body).
Appropriate referral if symptoms persist
Preventative Strategies & Ongoing Management for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Rest from any positions or movements that make the symptoms worse
Wearing a wrist splint, especially at night to
Soft tissue treatment to ensure your forearm muscles are not working under strain and enabling inflammation in their tendons to be reduced.
Do strengthening exercises– your Myotherapist can prescribe the correct exercises for you.
Regularly stretch forearm muscles before beginning any potentially stressful activity. Your Myotherapist can prescribe the correct exercises for you.
Application of ice after completing tasks that work the forearm muscles.