January Newsletter - Carpal Tunnel

What is Carpal Tunnel?

The carpal tunnel is a tunnel between the wrist bones and the flexor retinaculum (a band of connective tissue). The majority of the tendons of the hand, vessels and the median nerve pass through this tunnel. When any of the structures in this tunnel become inflamed or the tunnel is reduced in size, the median nerve can be compressed. When this nerve is compressed it may cause tingling, numbness or pain and weakness into the hand or forearm.
 


What do I look for?

  • Pain, sometimes a burning sensation and often tenderness in the wrist and palm regions. Pain may radiate into the forearm elbow and shoulder region.

  • Loss of sensation in the hand overnight.

  • Loss of sensation and/or pins and needles in the ring, middle, index fingers and thumb.

  • Pain in the hand at night.

  • Pain with writing, lifting and other repetitive activities.

What causes it?

  • Muscle imbalances around the wrist joint.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Overuse of the wrist muscles.

  • Pregnancy (swelling)

When do I see the physio?


If you have pins and needles or a different sensation in your hand for longer than 3 days, you need to see a Physio immediately.(Nerves are very sensitive structures and the longer you leave the symptoms the more treatment it takes to heal the underlying problem)

Your Physio should advise you to:

  • Ice your wrist for 20 minutes x2/day

  • Give you nerve gliding exercises.

  • Give you tendon gliding exercises.

  • Limit the use of your wrist from certain activities.

  • Assess to see if the nerve is being compressed in any other part of your arm or neck.

  • Assess your symptoms to see if a resting splint is required.

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