What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel is a syndrome that is caused by compression on the median nerve. The median nerve runs from the forearm through the carpal tunnel to the palm of the hand. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage way at the base of the hand. The median nerve supplies feeling to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (except the little finger). It controls the small muscles in the hand which allow the fingers and thumb to move.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include;
- Decrease grip strength
These symptoms are felt in the palm of the hand, thumb, index and middle finger. Symptoms may occur in one or both hands. Symptoms often occur at night.
Cause of carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel s caused by increase pressure on the nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel. Most likely this disorder is due to a congenital predisposition in other words you are born with a smaller carpal tunnel.
Other causes are trauma or injury to the wrist which leads to swelling in the carpal tunnel, fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause, mechanical problems of the wrist- work stress and repetitive use of vibrating tools.
Diagnoses of carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel can be diagnosed by your physiotherapist or doctor. Assessments included checking sensation and muscle power as well as observing and palpating the wrist and hand. Other investigations include a nerve conduct ion test or MRI.
- Avoid aggravating activities
- Immobilising the wrist with a splint
- Ice to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Stretching and strengthening exercises which can be prescribed by your physiotherapist
- Surgery may be needed if symptoms don’t subside with conservative management