If you are worried that you might be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), taking action and seeking care as soon as you notice symptoms is important to reduce risk factors and pressure on your wrist nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome, if not diagnosed or treated, worsens as time passes so early diagnoses and treatment are very important. Treating your carpal tunnel syndrome early with physiotherapy and lifestyle changes can lead to significant long-term improvement and eliminate symptoms.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that affects the hand and arm. This condition causes pain, numbness, and/or tingling when the median nerve is compressed or squeezed in the wrist. This nerve is one of the main nerves in your hand and actually originates as a group of nerve roots in the neck which comes together to form a single nerve in your arm. This nerve provides feeling to your index, middle, and ring fingers while also controlling the muscles around the base of your thumb. The median nerve runs through your carpal tunnel which also protects blood vessels and tendons as they pass between your hand and wrist. Your carpal tunnel is an inch-wide passageway that has its floor and sides formed by small wrist bones called the carpal bones. The boundaries to which the carpal tunnel is held are very rigid and leave little room to increase in size.
Carpal tunnel syndrome begins when the pressure inside the tunnel becomes too high which compresses your median nerve as it passes through the narrowed tunnel. Building pressure is a result of two things: your carpal tunnel becoming too narrowed or the contents of the tunnel becoming enlarged. Your carpal tunnel space can decrease from anything that swells your wrist, including repetitive hand movements, pregnancy, arthritis, traumatic injury, and partial dislocations and fractures. When the contents of your carpal tunnel, like the median nerve, blood vessels, and tendons, enlarge that take up space in the tunnel and eventually crowd the nerve. Both of these instances result in increased pressure on the nerve and the beginning of carpal tunnel symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Most cases begin without a specific injury and many people find that the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome begin gradually or come and go at first. However, as the condition worsens, your symptoms may become more frequent or persist longer. Common symptoms include:
- Hand pain, aching, or burning that occurs mainly in the thumb and index, middle, and ring fingers but can also travel up the forearm towards your shoulder.
- Numbness, tingling, pins and needles, or cramping that occurs mainly in the thumb and index, middle, and ring fingers but can also travel up the forearm towards your shoulder.
- An occasional shock-like sensation that radiates towards your thumb and index, middle, and ring fingers.
- Hand weakness that makes it difficult to perform fine movements or everyday tasks and can lead to clumsiness and the dropping of items.
- Loss of proprioception which is the awareness of where your hand is in space.
- The presence or worsening of symptoms during the night that may even awaken you from your sleep, which can result from sleeping with your wrist bent.
- The presence or worsening of symptoms during the day when carrying out repetitive movements or holding something with your wrist bent forwards or backwards for a prolonged period of time (such as driving, using your phone, reading a book, or typing).
Physiotherapy Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Here at Livewell Health and Physiotherapy, our treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome will always begin with a full assessment to locate where the source of pain is coming from. If we have located your pain at the wrist nerve, treatment can include manual, hands-on techniques that help increase the mobility of the nerve. Your treatment will also involve working to improve the range of motion of joints that affect and are affected by your carpal tunnel. Our Kitchener and Baden team will also ensure that you are fully educated on how to manage your carpal tunnel symptoms and modify your daily activities to reduced repetitive movement linked to the pain. We will also review various exercises and stretches with you that you can do at home to help with carpal tunnel syndrome. Below is an explanation of how some of our treatments can help manage your carpal tunnel pain and improve your arm mobility.
Physiotherapy studies the movement of the body and its function while helping patients at any age with solutions on how to restore the body’s movement and redevelop muscle function through gentle exercises. Our Kitchener and Baden physiotherapy teams work to empower people with exercises and techniques to improve their lifestyles and overall muscle health. One of our practitioners will assess and treat your carpal tunnel mobility problems and provide ongoing management solutions. We can provide you with education on avoiding inappropriate and provoking positions, as well as important strengthening, posture, and mobility exercises to help your affected arm recover. Our Physiotherapy Treatment Plan often involves sessions at our Kitchener or Baden facility in addition to physiotherapy exercises to do at home (depending on your ability to do so).
Acupuncture works to alleviate pain and inflammation in the body with a focus on nerve healing and biochemical reactions. Our acupuncturists at Livewell Health and Physiotherapy will work to stimulate the nerves linked to your carpal tunnel syndrome through acupuncture points for pain alleviation. As part of your Acupuncture Treatment Plan, your acupuncturist will start with a full initial assessment that will determine how frequent your sessions should be. Our Kitchener and Baden teams are well trained to handle any first-time nervousness and can reassure you that acupuncture is, in fact, very painless treatment and patients even often feel their pain is alleviated after just a few sessions.
Chiropractic care is a hands-on, non-invasive, health care discipline that concentrates the body’s joints, muscles, and nerves that make up the musculoskeletal system. Since carpal tunnel syndrome can be a repetitive stress injury, the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome for healing can be. Our Kitchener and Baden Chiropractic team takes a patient-focused approach and will begin your assessment with a full health history and perform necessary physical examinations to test your range of motion and balance. Common chiropractor care for carpal tunnel can involve manipulation of the affected wrist, elbow, and upper spine as well as resting the affected arm and wearing a splint or brace to immobilize the area and prevent repetitive movements. As a part of your Chiropractic Treatment Plan, your Chiropractor will often prescribe therapeutic exercises to complete on a daily basis at home to aid in your carpal tunnel recovery, or lifestyle advice your Chiropractor thinks will be beneficial.
You deserve the best carpal tunnel syndrome treatment available! Give us a call at (519) 579-6000 for our Kitchener location or at (519) 634-9819 for our Baden location to schedule your free consultation. Want more lifestyle advice on how to improve your overall health and wellness? Contact our team at Livewell Health and Physiotherapy for more tips and don't forget to view our other services that can help put you on the right track.