Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that can cause pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and forearm, in particular the thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger, with the potential to radiate up the arm. This condition occurs when one of the major nerves (median nerve) becomes entrapped or compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage formed by bones and ligaments of the wrist.

Common causes of CTS include:

  • Computer use
  • Prolonged use of vibrating equipment
  • Repetitive hand movements
  • Pregnancy
  • Health conditions including, diabetes, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis and obesity

To begin, symptoms are noticed to be worse at night time, however over time and as the condition progresses without adequate treatment, symptoms tend to occur throughout the day also and become more intense.

The treatment of CTS depends on severity and progression of the condition and may include:

Rest and activity modification: Avoiding aggravating activities and taking rests from repetitive movements that put strain on the area.

Ice use: Apply wrapped ice to the wrist to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

Splint: Wearing a splint or brace throughout the night to help maintain a neutral wrist position, reducing symptoms by relieving pressure on the affected nerve.

Medications: Anti-inflammatory medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain. As per pharmacist advice.

Physiotherapy: Specific exercises focused on improving wrist strength and mobility may alleviate symptoms by reducing pressure on the affected nerve.

Environment modification: Making adjustments to your work set up or using ergonomic tools to help reduce strain on the wrist and prevent aggravation of symptoms.

In severe cases, corticosteroid injections can provide a temporary relief of symptoms by reducing inflammation and surgical intervention can be considered if conservative treatments fail to provide relief or if there is evidence of nerve damage.

In CTS, symptoms progress over time and without adequate treatment can lead to permanent damage to the nerve and surrounding structures. It is important to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop an individualised treatment plan with regular monitoring and adjustments made to improve outcomes.

Laura Campbell

Laura Campbell

Laura Campbell is a physiotherapist situated in Double Bay within Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. Laura specialises in effectively addressing musculoskeletal issues through comprehensive assessments, evidence-based diagnoses, and personalised rehabilitation plans crafted to suit each person's specific needs and objectives.

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