PT on the Net Research

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Question:

I would like information on helping a client reduce carpel tunnel syndrome. Thank you.

Answer:

Carpal tunnel syndrome seems to be caused by either repetitive wrist flexion or trauma to the flexors of the wrist. What apparently takes place is the tendon sheath that surrounds the median nerve (carpal tunnel) becomes inflamed. The inflammation causes constriction through swelling and rides on that nerve creating pain. The pain can radiate up into the upper arm and shoulder in severe cases. Numbness, swelling and possible muscle atrophy are other symptoms of this syndrome.

There seems to be a variety of recovery theories from surgical release to immobilization. What seems to be effective for some people is staying away from the event that create the problem (wrist flexion) and increase wrist extension strength and range of motion. The stretching you mentioned seems logical. However, too much pressure from the body can aggravate the wrist. Perhaps having them simply pull back the fingers with the other hand may avoid an over aggressive attempt at flexibility and release. I am sure your experience and judgment will be a good guide for this. Other than the above suggestions, you can still use ice and NSAIDS after training to reduce the inflammation caused by exercise.

Other places to find information are the references listed and Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Journal. Be careful of information obtained from the web to make sure it is from a sound source.

References:

  1. O'Donoghue,D. The Treatment of Injuries to Athletes. 3rd edition. 1986
  2. Loudon,J. et al. The Clinical Orthopedic Assessment Guide. Human Kinetics. 1998