Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a very common condition, it can cause pain, numbness, weakness or tingling in the hand and wrist. It’s caused by pressure put on the median nerve, which is a nerve in your wrist that runs from the forearm to the thumb and first three fingers. The nerve runs through a small tunnel in your wrist, this is called the carpal tunnel. When pressure is put on the wrist, it can affect the nerve, causing the symptoms stated above. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be caused by many things. If you experience pain in your arm, hand, or thumb and first three fingers, but your pinky is pain free, this is a good warning sign that you may be experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
If you’re experiencing this syndrome there are a few options to help. You can try to treat it by stopping the activities that cause this pain and numbness, if possible. You can also try icing your wrist. You should ice it for 10 to 15 minutes every 1 to 2 hours. This will help with any swelling and may relieve pain. However, if these methods don’t work, you need to consider your next steps. Sometimes, if the pain doesn’t go away, many people begin to consider surgery to combat the problem. While surgery is an option, it can lead to many weeks of recovery, and for many of us, that means time out of work, and away from doing many everyday activities. While this may be the only option for some people, there are steps that can be taken first to try and avoid an unnecessary surgery.
Physical therapy is a great option if you’d like to avoid surgery. Physical therapy is non-invasive, and focuses on eliminating the pain now, and keeping it from coming back. A physical therapist can help you with different exercises and stretches to help you combat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In a study recently conducted on 100 women, 50 were treated with physical therapy, and 50 were treated with surgery. After just one month the physical therapy group had better hand function and grip strength than those who had surgery. At further milestones, the results were quite level for both groups. This means that avoiding surgery and trying physical therapy can lead to a quicker, and less painful recovery.
Some physical therapy techniques may include:
Gliding exercises: Moving your fingers in a specified pattern of exercises may help your tendons and nerves glide more smoothly through your carpal tunnel. While there’s some evidence that gliding exercises can help relieve symptoms when used alone, these exercises appear to work better in combination with other treatments -such as splinting.
Manual Therapy: Manual therapy techniques include soft tissue mobilization, myofascial release and joint mobilization are hands-on techniques that release tight muscles, fascia, joints, and tendons that can irritate the nerves in your arm or wrist.
Click this link to see more techniques your physical therapist may suggest.