The carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition that affects your wrist function. Learn more about its causes, symptoms, and treatment!
This syndrome devastates the fingers especially the thumb, middle and ring fingers with numbing and tingling pain that can sometimes extend to the arm.
It occurs when the median nerve, one of the major nerves in the wrist is compressed.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow channel way within the wrist that is approximately one inch wide. This tunnel houses the median nerve as well as the nine flexor tendons responsible for moving your fingers. It is the reason finger movement is affected when this area is damaged.
The tunnel has limited space for expansion or stretching due to the connective tissues called the transverse carpal ligament at the top of the tunnel.
Physiotherapy Can Help!
We asked Dr. Naomi Fyffe if physiotherapy exercises can help with carpal tunnel syndrome.
“Physical therapy is another common form of treatment that you can use to relieve the muscle pains, swelling, and other forms of disabilities“, she said. “A physiotherapist will assist you in using movement and exercise to combat the carpal tunnel syndrome”, adds Naomi.
Through physiotherapy, patients also receive education and advice regarding their conditions to help them manage the situations when left alone.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that also requires a physiotherapist to help you move and flex your fingers while checking on your swelling.
Since this condition can interfere with the normal functioning of your entire arm, physiotherapy will not only help with the healing process but also will facilitate recovery until you can fully and independently use your wrist and by extension your arm.
Physiotherapy approaches you as a whole considering your lifestyle and your daily activities. It also involves you entirely when being treated.
If the condition is advanced and requires to undergo surgery, you will still require the services of a physiotherapist in the process of healing and recovery.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
When the tunnel narrows down, due to the swelling of synovium tissues responsible for lubricating the tendons that help bend and flex the fingers, pressure occurs on the median nerve resulting in this syndrome.
The tissues occupy little space in the tunnel due to swelling hence the pressure. It is this pressure that causes numbness, pain, tingling feeling, and grip weakness.
The pressure is brought about by various physical and hereditary factors.
Physical factors include using the wrist extensively for activities that involve putting extreme pressure on the wrist, like heavy weight lifting.
Typing and other computer-related work can also lead to such problems especially if you fail to stretch occasionally during working hours.
Jobs related to vibration and hitting tools also cause pressure on this nerve.
Pregnant women are also more likely to develop this syndrome. Hormonal imbalance during pregnancy sometimes leads to swelling of the wrists among other places.
There are some people whose wrists are naturally small due to hereditary factors. The anatomic difference in the size of their carpal tunnel reduces the space required for the nerves and can cause pressure on the median.
The key to note is that carpal tunnel syndrome affects mostly women and older people.
Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
As mentioned earlier, the symptoms of this condition include debilitating pain, especially at night. This pain is usually on the muscle at the base of the thumb.
This muscle may waste away leading to loss of grip strength and by extension the normal functioning of the entire arm.
These symptoms begin slowly but are more common at night when a patient is sleeping since most people curl their wrists when sleeping.
During the day, you may experience a tingling sensation or lose sensation on your fingertips.
You may also, in advanced cases, experience difficulty in holding or grasping objects with your fingers.
Other Forms Of Treatment
It is always safe to find a doctor if you experience the above-mentioned symptoms.
Early diagnosis may prevent the condition from paralyzing your entire arm to a point where you are unable to perform simple actions such as holding a book when reading or a cup or actions such as buttoning your shirt.
Treatment includes wearing wrist splints if the condition is still in its early stages. The splint prevents you from bending your wrist when you are sleeping at night.
You are also advised to avoid particular physical activities in order to effectively treat carpal tunnel syndrome.