Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. The median nerve provides sensation to the palmar side of the first three fingers and half of the ring finger. Compression of the nerve will cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand. In severe cases, long term compression of the nerve can also cause loss of grip strength and muscle atrophy in the hand. There are various factors that contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, such as pregnancy, where swelling can cause compression in the carpal tunnel, certain occupations that involve forceful gripping and repetitive movements, and traumatic injuries that may compromise the size of the carpal tunnel, as with a wrist fracture.
- Numbness/tingling in the hand
- Loss of grip strength
- Pain upon gripping/ lifting objects that may radiate to forearm
- Being overweight or pregnant
- Repetitive hand or wrist movements in certain occupations
- Injury to the wrist (e.g. distal radius fracture)
PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR CARPAL TUNNEL
A physical therapist will manage pain and inflammation in the carpal tunnel with modalities like ultrasound and ice. Your doctor may also prescribe a resting wrist splint to avoid further compression on the nerve until the inflammation subsides. Your therapist can then guide you through range of motion and tendon gliding exercises for the fingers and wrist. This will help mobilize tendons and the median nerve that cross the wrist joint. When symptoms improve, you will also do strengthening exercises for the hand and forearm musculature that will prepare you to return to daily activities and work tasks. Your therapist will discuss proper workplace ergonomics to prevent further flare ups.