What is it?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a painful condition affecting the hand caused by increased pressure on the median nerve. As the nerve passes through the carpal tunnel on the palm side of the hand it can become compressed due to narrowing of the tunnel or swelling of the wrist.
The carpal tunnel contains and protects important structures such as nerves, tendons and blood vessels as they pass into the hand. The palm side of the tunnel is supported by a strong ligamentous band (transverse carpal ligament) and at the rear are numerous small wrist bones (carpal bones).
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) sufferers can experience symptom such as:
- Hand pain or aching
- Pins and needles and/or numbness in the palm, thumb and first 2 and a half fingers (median nerve distribution)
- Burning pain
- Weakness (difficulty with gripping and pinching objects)
- Perception of wrist swelling
Symptoms can often be worse at night and aggravated throughout the day with gripping objects or in positions of sustained wrist bending (eg incorrect use of the keyboard).
Any condition that reduces the size of the carpal tunnel will increase the risk. Such as:
- Overuse/repetitive use (eg desk work, manual labour) - most common
- Trauma (previous fracture or injury)
- Osteoarthritis of the wrist
- Increasing age
- Inflammatory conditions
CTS is diagnosed through a range of tests including assessment of your wrist range of motion, strength, sensation as well as other special tests. Nerve conduction tests can also be carried out when required.
Treatment can include:
- Rest/modification of aggravating activities (especially repetitive activities)
- Splinting/wrist brace to reduce pressure on the carpal tunnel
- Swelling management
- Tendon and nerve exercises
- Strengthening on the hand, wrist and forearm muscles
In some cases surgery is required to release the pressure from the carpal tunnel.
Treatment is most successful when addressed early on in the condition.
If you think you may be suffering with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, get in touch with one of our Physio's at Active Answers Physiotherapy.