10 May Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Overview
Overview of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused when there is compression of the median nerve. The median nerve innervates the flexor compartment of the forearm/wrist/hand (see figure 1.). Carpal tunnel syndrome accounts for 90% of all neuropathies (nerve related issues).
Figure 1. Overview of compression of the median nerve
What are the common CTS signs & symptoms?
Common symptoms include:
- Increase sensitivity
- Tingling/burning sensations of the hand
- Pain can sometimes radiate up the affected arm
- Decreased motor coordination in the affected hand
- Muscle atrophy of the thenar (thumb) aspect of the hand
How do I know if I’m developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is generally a gradual onset of tingling or numbness in the median nerve distribution of the hand.
As carpal tunnel progresses the symptoms may become constant and/or may complain of a burning sensation.
The final symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are weakness and decreased muscle mass around the base of the thumb. People will then start to complain of clumsiness, difficulty of pinching/gripping everyday items or dropping things.
What type of treatment is available?
Conservative treatment of mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated via a physiotherapist and other allied health professionals.
Physiotherapy treatment can include advice and education on modification of activities and ergonomic modifications. Manual therapy techniques can involve mobilisation of the affected nerves. Other modalities can include splinting of the wrist to ensure a more neutral position to decrease compression of the medial nerve.
CTS Bottom line:
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms often progress over a long period of time despite conservative treatment. Surgical interventions that are warranted for individual can be safe and sometimes more effective than conservative treatment.
Symptoms over a long period of time may potentially lead to irreversible changes in the structure of the hand, which can affect the effective of surgery.
Patients should be advised by their general practitioners to discuss surgical treatment options when necessary and desired if conservative treatment does not work and symptoms are progressing.
Post by: Physiotherapist Ray Palencia