Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression/entrapment on the median nerve, running through the wrist. It can result in a variety of problems, including pain, tingling, numbness, swelling, weakness or clumsiness of the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers.
Your doctor can diagnose this clinically and with a history of your symptoms. Sometimes a doctor will request a nerve conduction study to confirm the diagnosis.
What causes it?
- Tendon swelling (tendinitis) results from a person’s own tendency to collect fluid around their tendons and joints. This may be aggravated by repetitive or strenuous activities.
- Early on, symptoms occur during sleeping hours. The fluid pressure builds up only when the hand is at rest – especially during sleep. Bending the wrist may also increase pressure on the nerve.
- Water retention.
- In more advanced cases, symptoms occur during waking hours. At this stage, scar tissue may form around the nerve from repeated episodes of pressure. Nerve damage is suspected when any symptoms occur regularly during the day.
What can a therapist do to help?
- Provide a hand splint to support the wrist and tendons.
- Assist in managing the nerve’s gliding action.
- Help identify aggravating activities and suggest alternative postures.
- Provide exercises to relieve the inflammation and pressure on the nerve
What can a doctor do to help?
- The most successful method of treating carpal tunnel syndrome is by doing a small surgical procedure to release the carpal tunnel. It is done through a small incision in the palm of your hand.
- Confirm that this actually is the problem. This may require special nerve tests done by a neurologist.
- Prescribe stronger NSAID medication or cortisone-type medication.
- Prescribe hand therapy and/or a custom prescription splint.
- The most effective treatment without surgery is a cortisone shot into the carpal tunnel. Depending on several factors, these measures can provide long-term relief in 5 to 60 per cent of patients.
Schedule an Appointment
For an integrated approach to Occupational Therapy services, contact us on the details below.
Hands, Lymphoedema & Breast Cancer
011 475 9480
Neurological and Adult Physical Rehabilitation
060 477 9950