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Hand Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

carpal tunnel syndrome

Wrist pain due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that causes pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hand. This occurs when the median nerve, which runs along the length of your arm, gets compressed in a passage at your wrist called the carpal tunnel.          

The median nerve is one of the major nerves to the hand functions to provide sensation to your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. It also supplies the muscles of the front of the forearm and most muscles of the hand, thus controlling the majority of your hand movements. 

In most cases, early symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can either be numbness or tingling of the hand. However, when left untreated, weakness to the muscles supplied may occur. Thus, hand therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during the acute stage is advised to prevent severity.

Workplace Injuries that Cause CTS?

CTS is one of the most common occupational injuries, although it can be caused by a variety of factors, such as arthritis and pregnancy. Common causes are repetitive motions at the wrist.

These are the following mechanisms of injury contributing to carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Repetitive hand motions such as typing 
  • Strong gripping 
  • Mechanical stress on the palm
  • Vibration

Who can be Affected by CTS?

As mentioned above, CTS can be caused by both occupational and non-occupational factors. 

If you are employed in these jobs, you are more at risk to CTS:

  • Assembly line workers (involved in manufacturing, finishing, cleaning, and packaging) 
  • Office or desktop workers 
  • Cashiers
  • Hairdressers
  • Bakers
  • Seamstresses
  • Construction workers

Non-occupational factors contributing to CTS:

  • Pregnancy 
  • Menopause
  • Diabetes
  • Wrist fractures or dislocations
  • Arthritis 

Hand Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Although surgery can be performed for CTS, conservative treatments are the preferred initial action. An appointment with a hand therapist is beneficial

Hand Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome includes: 

  • Range of motion exercises (ROM)

Range of motion exercise is simply performing joint movements in prescribed repetitions and sets. For CTS, the wrist joint is the joint of focus.

Wrist motions include: 

– Flexion-  moving the wrist forward

– Extension- moving the wrist backward

– Radial deviation- moving the wrist outward

– Ulnar deviation- moving the wrist inward 

  • Nerve flossing or nerve gliding 

Nerve flossing/gliding is a technique that gently mobilizes an irritated nerve. This helps to relieve pain and increase range of motion. Due to the high sensitivity of the already irritated nerve, nerve gliding is done with few repetitions.

  • Stretching 

Considering how the median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel, adjacent to the tendon of your forearm muscles, stretching of these muscles is essential. Your therapist may ask you to stretch both your wrist flexors (the muscles that run along the front of your forearm) and wrist extensors (the muscles that run along the back of your forearm).

  • Strengthening

If your CTS manifests weakness of the hand, your therapist will be giving you strengthening exercises. 

          Examples of strengthening exercises for your wrist and hand are:

    • gripping exercises
    • exercises with the use of dumbbells
    • exercises with the use of resistance bands
  •   Splints

Bending your wrist will further irritate your median nerve. Thus during sleep, when you’re most likely to bend it, your therapist will advise you to wear a splint. Splints help in preventing the pain from worsening because it holds the wrist in a neutral position. 

I have these symptoms, what should I do?

If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, give any of our Armworks clinics a call or schedule an appointment online. Each of our clinics has Certified Hand Therapists who can treat your injury and get you back to doing your job in comfort.

Hand Therapy For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome