What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is an entrapment of the median nerve as it passes through the front of the wrist (the carpal tunnel) into the hand. The carpal tunnel is a confined space and as a result the median nerve becomes easily compressed if the tunnel is too small. Likewise if the bones and tendons making up the carpal tunnel become irritated or if there is fluid or swelling in or near the tunnel.
What are the causes?
There may be many different causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, for example
- Can occur secondary to work related or repetitive irritation due to overuse of the tendons passing through the carpal tunnel.
- Pregnancy and other causes of increase fluid retention
- Tumours, ganglions, cysts
- Carpal fracture or dislocation
What are the symptoms?
- Burning sensation
- Possible wrist pain
- Numbness and paresthesia felt in the hand where the median nerve would usually go (thumb and 1st and 2nd fingers)
- Often worse at night during sleep.
- Pain may radiate to forearm and shoulder.
What to do
- See your Osteopath to have a proper examination and diagnosis of the problem. The correct condition and cause must be identified in order to treat it correctly. Incorrect diagnosis and doing the wrong stretches for example can cause further irritation.
- All cases of carpal tunnel syndrome need ergonomic investigation to elicit any repetitive predisposing factors.
- Rest from any irritating activity – a splint may be indicated or necessary
- Once the cause of the carpal tunnel syndrom can be identified, your Osteopath will probably apply gentle treatment to wrist and forearm and surrounding areas that are associated with and or contributing to the problem.
- Your Osteopath will give you instructions on how to safely care for the injury and how to do any rehabilitation exercises at every stage of the healing through to complete recovery and help to prevent re-occurrence.
- Your Osteopath may suggest changes to your daily activities that have contributed to the problem.
- Take further measures to reduce inflammation ice or anti-inflammatory which should only be taken under direction and supervision of a healthcare professional.
- Rarely some cases require surgical release or injections to reduce inflammation.
What not to do
- Do not apply heat to the region.
- Do not self prescribe exercises or stretches as these may irritate the problem.
- Don’t apply deep heat creams or massage yourself.
- Don’t attempt to continue with the activity that caused the injury.