Carpal Tunnel syndrome is a condition that effects an individual’s wrist and hand. Carpal tunnel results from the compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel located on the palm side of the wrist. The tunnel is formed by wrist bones and the transverse carpal ligament, and contains the median nerve and the flexor tendons of the wrist and fingers.
Increased pressure inside this tunnel creates a compressive force on the nerve and the onset of the symptoms that are associated with the condition. This increased pressure could come from surrounding structures or the contents of the tunnels itself. Inflammation of the wrist or tendons, swelling, trauma, repetitive wrist movements, increased activity or load placed through the wrist and hormonal changes can be factors which contribute to the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms will often be worse during sleep.
Conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypothyroidism, arthritis, menopause and pregnancy can increase an individual’s chance of developing carpal tunnel.
Symptoms can include:
• Numbness or tingling sensation of the hand
• Thumb and first two fingers are affected the greatest
• Wrist pain
• Swelling or inflammation of the wrist
• Weakness of the hand
• Difficulty preforming task or holding objects with hand
Rest, reduction of aggravating activities or factors, massage, mobilisation, patient education, neural stretching, exercises and splinting are techniques which can be incorporated into a treatment plan. The use of cortisone injections anti-inflammatory medication may be included and is individually assessed.
Surgery for the management of carpal tunnel is an option which is considered in cases where nerve damage has occurred or there is a potential for this to happen.