How to Heal your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It’s hard to imagine going through our days without the regular use of our hands, and their function can be something we take for granted until something impairs it. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a very common condition which you’ve likely heard of – can, unfortunately, do exactly that. It most often affects those aged 45 and up, and usually feels like intensified pins and needles in the fingers and thumb - but can quickly progress to pain in the hand even the arm. It can also cause weakness and clumsiness: being unable to hold your grip, fumbling, and dropping things are all common results of the condition. Needless to say, this can be incredibly irritating and burdensome in everyday life.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is often associated with using a keyboard for work – which can be a cause if, studies show, you type for more than 20 hours per week – but other movements can be the culprit, too. Flexing and extending the hand repeatedly is the most common cause, putting hairstylists and massage therapists at risk as well, for example. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can also be hereditary, and obesity is another factor. Pregnant women, particularly those in their third trimester, are also susceptible, due to abnormal fluid distribution.
So what exactly is CTS? The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist, spanning about one inch. The “floor” and the sides of the tunnel are made up of the wrist’s small carpal bones, and the “roof” of the tunnel is a strong band of tissue called the transverse carpal ligament, which has little capacity to stretch. Running through the protective carpal tunnel is the median nerve and the flexor tendons, which are responsible for bending the fingers and thumb.
The annoying, and often painful, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome crops up when the tissue surrounding the tunnel swells, which narrows the passageway and puts pressure on the median nerve. This pressure is what causes the tingling and numbness.
While at first the symptoms can be mild, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can quickly worsen if left untreated. Tingling can become constant, and pain can intensify and spread, so it’s important to have the condition diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Severe cases that have gone untreated can occasionally require surgery, but these instances are rare, and the team at Creekside are committed to helping you avoid that route. Thankfully, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be quite easy to heal if treated early on.
First, your physiotherapist will run a few tests and examinations to determine whether it is in fact Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at work in your wrist and hand. If so, there are a myriad of treatments they will strategically piece together for you. Occasionally, in the condition’s early stages, all that might be required is changes in activity. Additionally, your physiotherapist will help you incorporate regular exercises that relieve the pressure on the median nerve, as well as use manual therapy, a host of modalities, and possibly some bracing options to help ease discomfort.
Fortunately, Creekside’s resident hand and wrist expert, Kari Loftsgard – who is the only Certified Hand Therapist in the East Kootenays – has the ability to find unique solutions for each of her patients. She can assess how far along your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is, and which specific exercises and treatments will be required to help it heal.
Whether you’ve been suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for a while, or if you’re simply curious about where the discomfort and tingling in your hand is coming from, the team at Creekside is committed to helping you solve it as quickly and naturally as possible. After all, your hands play an irreplaceable role in life every day, and with their function impaired, mundane tasks can become incredibly frustrating. Your physiotherapist will ensure that you’re on the path to decreasing discomfort and increasing function, so that you can take your hands-on approach to life again!