Physiotherapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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By Dr. Mukesh Vyas, Physiotherapy

Also known as Median Nerve Compression, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is characterized by a sensation of tingling and numbness in the hands or the arm caused due to a strained nerve of the wrist. This condition occurs due to stress which affects the functioning of the part of median nerve, situated along the wrist.

Various Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

  1. Constant movement of the hands in activities such as typing on the computer
  2. Pregnancy
  3. Arthritis

Various Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

The symptoms of this syndrome start to show up when there is excessive pressure build up in the median nerve of the wrist. You may experience-

  1. A sensation of numbness
  2. A sensation akin to the pain experienced when needles are inserted into the skin
  3. Pain (mostly at night)

The build- up of pressure can occur due to a number of reasons. They are-

  1. Painful injury
  2. Fracture
  3. Tenosynovitis (a condition that affects the tendons along the sides of the thumb)

The compression of the nerve may develop anywhere, and not necessarily the wrist only.

Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Physiotherapists base their diagnosis of the condition on the symptoms and certain tests. These include-

  1. Phalen’s test (a test that is carried out to determine any pain or numbness in the fingers within one minute of this activity)
  2. Wrist flexion/median nerve compression test
  3. Tinel’s test (a test that is used to diagnose irritated nerves)

Few nerve enlargements may be revealed by an ultrasound, X-Ray, MRI scan, CT scans etc. The doctor generally recommends any of the above tests to determine carpal tunnel syndrome.

Important measures that help treat the condition are-

  1. Getting ample rest
  2. Educating yourself on the various symptoms
  3. Knowing certain activities or movements that trigger symptoms
  4. Attending physiotherapy sessions

Physiotherapy as an important form of treatment for Carpal tunnel syndrome…

Physiotherapy holistically helps overcome the symptoms of this condition for patients diagnosed with mild or even a moderate case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. You will be taught certain exercises, to help you with-

  1. Extensibility of muscle as well as soft tissue
  2. Strengthening the forearms and the ability to grip things and pinch too
  3. Maintaining posture and performing hand agility exercises can improve the hand movement
  4. Mobilization of the Carpal bone and stretching of the flexor retinaculum (a fibrous band near one’s wrist) so as to widen the carpal tunnel
  5. Gliding training for nerves/ tendons for unrestricted motion
  6. Endurance training for strengthening the upper limb as well as the wrist