Carpal tunnel syndrome begins with the compression or irritation of the median nerve, often causing mild symptoms of pain, numbness, and tingling that worsen over time if untreated. A variety of lifestyle habits and injuries can lead to carpal tunnel, making it a common malady among people of all ages–but the pain can be reversed. One of the best treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome is physiotherapy, as this quickly targets and heals many of the causing factors of pain and inflammation.
Physiotherapy For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A multi-layered treatment for carpal tunnel is found in physiotherapy. Yonge and Eglinton physiotherapists target nearly all causes of carpal tunnel to relieve painful symptoms while working to mitigate the pressure or inflammation itself. Symptoms caused by muscle strain or weakness can be reversed by strengthening exercises.
These exercises work to correct poor posture while stretching and mobility exercises aim for better wrist, hand, and finger function. One mobility exercise a physiotherapist may use is a gliding exercise, meant to reduce nerve pain and increase tendon flexibility.
A physiotherapist may also recommend a wrist brace to wear during the night or during painful activities to encourage proper wrist flexion. This is primarily done to reduce pain and help a patient sleep comfortably, though it can be worn throughout the day. Physiotherapists also seek to inform patients about carpal tunnel, ensuring that they understand the many causes and warn of actions that may do more damage. With all of these elements combined, physiotherapy is a highly viable, non-invasive treatment option for those suffering from carpal tunnel.
Causes Of Carpal Tunnel
The exact cause of an individual’s carpal tunnel can be tricky to determine at times, as a collection of small habits or environmental stressors can be the perpetrator of this condition. In some cases, the cause is more acute, like an injury to the wrist or other trauma in the area. A patient can generally determine what’s causing the irritation within their carpal tunnel by noting what activities and motions cause the most pain. At a glance, these are the most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Repeated motions of the fingers and wrists.
- A strain on the wrist, either pulling up or pushing down.
- Using hands with excessive force.
- Wrists remaining flexed too often.
Though it seems unlikely, posture plays a huge part in how pain develops in the carpal tunnel and its treatment. The strain on the back, neck, and shoulders can sneak down to the wrists, causing strain in the muscles and the ligament crossing over the carpal wrist bones.
Professions involving assembly line work also prime the wrists for carpal tunnel pain, as these jobs are often the perfect storm of repeated motions and tension in the fingers and wrists. Construction jobs that require handheld machines with high vibrations affect the carpal tunnel, in the same way, irritating the median nerve through progressive irritation and pressure.
Office jobs that require extensive typing on the computer are, not much safer. Hours of typing with too much force or with an awkward wrist hang can do just as much damage as a job with greater physical labor.
A strain or break in the wrist can lead to instances of carpal tunnel syndrome if the median nerve becomes compromised. Similarly, arthritis can affect the nerve just as painfully.
Keeping Carpal Tunnel At Bay
A few small tweaks and lifestyle changes are all you may need to prevent this debilitating condition. Because it is so often caused by tension and wrist strain, incorporating stretches and taking breaks throughout the day will loosen and soften the areas surrounding the carpal tunnel.
Taking note of your posture and adjusting your shoulders to ensure they aren’t rolled forward will also have a preventative impact. If you find yourself keeping your wrist in a singular or sedentary position throughout your workday or during laborious activities, make an effort to adjust or change your wrists position by switching hands, taking small breaks, or holding an item differently.
Mitigate pain and stiffness caused by cold temperatures by wearing gloves or keeping them close by, especially if you work outdoors. If you spend your workdays at a desk, it’s also beneficial to inspect and adjust your workplace and add or remove elements as necessary. This may mean an upgraded office chair to correct painful posture or even a wrist pad to alleviate pressure while you work and type.