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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the median nerve. The median nerve supplies sensation to the palm of your hand, thumb and second to fourth fingers. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome occur when the median nerve becomes compressed as it passes from our forearm into our hand, through the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist which is formed by bones and ligaments. The median nerve and nine tendons pass through the carpal tunnel.
The median nerve normally becomes compressed when there is increased swelling or thickening of the tendons in the carpal tunnel, squeezing or pinching the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome normally causes tingling and numbness into the 1st – 4th fingers, weaknesses of the muscles of the wrist and hand, increased discomfort with use of the affected wrist and forearm.
A number of other factors are thought to contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome such as wrist anatomy post fracture, nerve damaging conditions, inflammatory conditions, changes in the balance of body fluids and work place factors. Carpal tunnel syndrome is often seen in those who type and mouse for prolonged periods as this leads to overuse of the tendons of the wrist and also compression of the carpal tunnel as the wrist is rested on the desk.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is also more commonly seen amongst females. Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome get better with physiotherapy treatment and rest from aggravating activity. Physiotherapy treatment normally consists of soft tissue massage, dry needling, use of electrotherapy and prescription of specific stretches and strengthening exercises.
Your physiotherapist will also help in identifying and correcting ergonomic and postural factors, which may have contributed to the development of the condition. Some cases settle once the underlying health condition which caused carpal tunnel syndrome improves e.g. decreased fluid build up post pregnancy.
If you are experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms, come in and see one of our physios here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic. The sooner you get carpal tunnel syndrome assessed and treated, the quicker your symptoms will resolve.