Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Well done! You’ve taken the first steps to understanding and relieving your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! Once you read this page answer the questions on the sheet given by your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia and bring that to your next treatment session. carpal tunnel diagram Recovery from your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is crucial in order to achieve your goals and gain rapid and long-lasting results. Your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia has requested that you read this page so that you understand your condition and know how to best manage in between physiotherapy consultations.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition of the wrist and hand in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the Carpal Tunnel.  The Carpal Tunnel is an anatomical tunnel at the base of your palm. Through this tunnel travels 9 tendons, as well as the median nerve. It is surrounded on three sides by the carpal bones, and on the forth side by a ligament, the transverse carpal ligament. The median nerve can be compressed by a decrease in size of the tunnel, or by an increase in the size of the contents. For example, if the lubrication tissue around the tendons becomes inflamed. The symptoms are felt on the radial (the side closest to the thumb) and palmar (the side that your palm is on) side of the hand, thumb, index and middle finger, as well as the radial, palmer half of the ring finger, and may include pain, tingling, numbness or weakness. Some patients may also experience pain in their forearm.

What caused my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is usually considered to be an overuse injury, but the exact cause is still disputed. Flexion (bending the wrist forwards) and extension (bending the wrist backwards) causes 8x and 10x the pressure on the carpal tunnel, respectively. Therefore, it is believed that these actions performed repetitively may be a primary contributing factor. Other contributing factors may be obesity, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes/pre-diabetes, and trauma.

How can you help me with my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

human hand carpal tunnel syndrome A detailed history, taken by your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician, of the pain or injury can determine the underlying cause of your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, while a physical assessment of the wrist, fingers, elbow and surrounding structures, can determine the best course of action in treating the condition. Usually, treatment will involve strategies for lifting/grasping objects, as well as treatment to allow the nerve to move more freely within the carpal tunnel. Treatment may also include education about changing habits (particularly work habits) and exercises to strengthen or lengthen appropriate muscles.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

  • AVOID activities that aggravate the pain. If you use a mouse and keyboard a lot, try to keep your wrists as neutral as possible (your physiotherapist can show you strategies to avoid aggravating your pain).
  • DO try gentle, pain-free movements of the wrist and fingers (note: PAIN-FREE).
  • Applying non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may help to reduce pain in the short term, if inflammation is present. CONSULT your PHARMACIST regarding their use.
  • For RELIEF, try applying heat to the affected area. If using a heat pack, be sure to heat based on the guidelines of that particular heat pack, and always wrap the heat pack in a towel to avoid burn. DO NOT apply heat if the area is red or inflamed. CEASE if you have any negative reaction.
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, but avoid aggravating activities.
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles de-loaded and moving freely with no restrictions.
Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has resolved you will be able to resume your full activities without worrying about future flare-ups.
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