Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Do you ever sit at your desk or while you're lying in bed at night have numbness or tingling at your wrist and hand? Does sometimes it shoot from your wrist up your forearm?

This could be carpal tunnel syndrome. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs down the forearm to the palm of your hand, gets restricted or trapped at your wrist. The median nerve innervates the palm of your hand including your thumb and fingers (not your small finger), as well as, a few muscles in the hand. The median nerve runs through a tunnel known as the carpal tunnel. This tunnel can get inflammed or restricted due to many reasons. As a result, the median nerve gets compressed causing weakness, pain, and numbness/tingling. 

What are symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Symptoms may start infrequently and then increase in duration, pain levels, and frequency to include the following: 

  • Burning 
  • Tingling 
  • Itching 
  • Feeling of swelling or uselessness at hand and fingers
  • Decreased strength including grip strength 
  • Muscle atrophy of muscles at base of thumb.

Symptoms primarily occur at palm side of hand- including thumb and the closest two fingers. Symptoms frequently start at night but can increase to occur during the day. 

What are the causes behind carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel has a few pathologes that may increase your risk for carpal tunnel. Little research is shown to support repetitive movement as a cause- but it has been linked to poor posture at work. Sometimes, people develop CTS without a clear cause.

  • Congenital Predeposition (If someone in your family has had CTS, this increases your risk). 
  • Pregnancy or Menopause
  • Trauma/Sprain to Wrist 
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Work Stress
  • Repetitive vibration at hands
  • Poor Posture
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

What can physical therapy and chiropractic care do to help?

A physical therapist can work with you in order to decrease the stress at the wrist, forearm, and arm in order to decrease the strain on the median nerve at the wrist or additional locations. They can review postural strengthening and stretching in order to transfer stresses to larger muscles versus the smaller muscles at the wrist. A physical therapist or chiropractor can demonstrate and prescibe appropriate exercises in order to promote nerve gliding and health. Additionally, soft tissue work can be performed to release trigger points and tight muscles in order to allow the best posture for activities of daily living or during work.