True carpal tunnel syndrome is pain in the front side of thumb, index and middle finger from a stenosis or bony growth of the bones of the wrist just below the palm of your hand where the median nerve has less space to travel. Many cases of carpal tunnel that are diagnosed as "serious enough for an operation", can actually be corrected with soft tissue work since tight fascia and muscles in this area can put the same pressure on your carpal tunnel as true bony stenosis. Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome that respond well to soft tissue work would be people who get some relief from using a heat pack on the wrist or anterior shoulder or from stretching the forearm. In some cases, however, surgical intervention is necessary to take pressure off the nerve.
Symptoms you may be experiencing:
- pain when putting wrist in full flexion or extension
- pain in thumb, index and middle fingers (on the front surface of fingers)
- tingling and numbness in fingers and/or hand, excluding pinky finger, which often occurs after waking from sleep or while holding a steering wheel or phone, for example, and may extend from the wrist up the arm
- weakness in the hand resulting in a tendency to drop things
- symptoms may come and go initially and be more constant as the carpal tunnel progresses
Initial care - things to try at home:
- take short, regular breaks from repetitive activities involving the use of your hands
- apply a heat pack to the wrist and anterior shoulder
- stretch forearms, palms and fingers
- avoid sleeping on your hands
Our approach to solving your problem:
- Assessment for carpal tunnel can be done clinically with special tests and range of motion exercises. It may also be necessary to be referred to a specialist for further diagnostics using electro-diagnostic equipment where an electronic pulse is shot through the nerve to see how much of the current comes out the other side of the carpal tunnel.
- Using soft tissue therapy techniques, we will loosen up the forearm flexors, forearm extensors and anterior shoulder and anterior neck muscles as this takes pressure off the neural pathway of the median nerve.
- Nerve stretching can be useful in encouraging gliding of the nerve in this region and can be given as a take home stretch or done as part of the consultation.
- Kinesio taping of the forearm of wrist is effective in changing the resting position to an off-loaded wrist position to optimise space in the nerve's pathway.
- We will refer to a specialist for the possibility of surgical intervention if you are not responding to soft tissue therapy techniques after 3-5 sessions.
We will then create a management plan specific to:
- help settle the pain;
- address the causative factors;
- get you back to the activities that you enjoy!
If you would like one of our Soft Tissue Therapists to help resolve your carpal tunnel syndrome, give us a call on 9894 2463 or book online to make an appointment.