What is the carpal tunnel?
The carpal tunnel is a channel on the palm side of the wrist and surrounds the tendons used to bend your wrist and fingers as well as the median nerve. It is formed by carpal bones with the broad transverse ligament forming the roof of the tunnel.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel passageway can experience increased pressure, often associated with repetitive use which leads to the median nerve being compressed. This can lead to numbness, tingling, pain, a burning sensation, weakness and loss of sensation in the hand. You may also experience carpal tunnel syndrome if you have rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid disorders or are pregnant.
About 3 in 100 men and 5 in 100 women can develop carpal tunnel syndrome at some point during their lifetime.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy for carpal tunnel syndrome is aimed at reducing the swelling and pain whilst restoring strength and function. Only when conservative management fails would corticosteroid injection or surgery be considered.
A physiotherapist will initially take a detailed history and perform a physical assessment to determine the cause of your pain.
Treatment may include electrotherapy, wrist mobilisations, assessment of biomechanics and ergonomics as well as appropriate exercises and stretches to improve strength, range of motion and flexibility. A splint may also be prescribed to wear at night.