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  • Writer's pictureDave the physio

That nagging wrist pain known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Man holding sore wrist

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that affects the hand and wrist. It is caused by compression of the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand. This compression can cause pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the affected hand and fingers.

CTS is often caused by repetitive motions, such as typing on a keyboard or using a mouse for extended periods of time. Other risk factors include obesity, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms of CTS typically start gradually and may include tingling or numbness in the thumb, index, middle, or ring fingers. Pain may also be felt in the wrist or hand, and there may be weakness in the affected hand. In more severe cases, symptoms can progress to the point where grip strength is affected, making it difficult to hold objects or perform tasks.

To diagnose CTS, a doctor may perform a physical examination and ask about the patient's symptoms. They may also conduct a nerve conduction study or an electromyography (EMG) to measure the electrical activity of the muscles and nerves in the hand and arm.

How to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Treatment for CTS typically begins with non-surgical options such as rest, splinting, and physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can also help to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.

If non-surgical treatments are not effective, surgery may be recommended. The most common surgery for CTS is called carpal tunnel release, which involves cutting the transverse carpal ligament to relieve pressure on the median nerve. This can be done through an open incision or with a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure.

Preventing CTS is important to avoid the need for treatment. To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, it's recommended to take frequent breaks from repetitive tasks, stretching and exercises to improve flexibility in your wrist and hands, and maintaining a healthy weight.

If you are experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, it's important to see a doctor for an evaluation. With appropriate treatment, most people with CTS can find relief from their symptoms and return to normal activities.

How physiotherapy can help

Physiotherapy is an effective treatment option for individuals experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and can help to reduce pain, inflammation, and improve function in the hand, wrist, and arm.

The first step in physiotherapy for CTS is to identify and address the underlying causes of the condition. This may involve evaluating the patient's posture, ergonomics, and work or leisure activities to identify any factors that may be contributing to the development of CTS.

Once the underlying causes have been identified, a physiotherapist will develop an individualized treatment plan to address the patient's specific needs. This may include exercises to improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the hand, wrist, and arm.

Stretching exercises are an important part of physiotherapy for CTS. These exercises can help to reduce tension in the hand and wrist, and improve flexibility in the affected joints.

Strengthening exercises can also help to improve the function of the hand and wrist, and reduce the risk of further injury.

Manual therapy techniques such as massage and joint mobilization may also be used to help reduce pain and inflammation, and improve range of motion in the hand and wrist.

Another important aspect of physiotherapy for CTS is education on ergonomics and activity modification. This can include advice on how to set up a workstation to reduce strain on the hand and wrist, and tips on how to modify activities to reduce the risk of further injury.

In addition to these interventions, a physiotherapist may also recommend the use of modalities such as ultrasound and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to help reduce pain and inflammation.

It's important to note that physiotherapy for CTS is most effective when it is started early. Early intervention can help to reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse.

Remember to always seek professional advice if your pain as been lingering.

If you're looking for an appointment you can speak to any one of the team at Strength and Pilates Physiotherapy at our Surry Hills clinic and they can help start your rehab journey!

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