Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is defined as a “compression neuropathy” indicating that signs and symptoms are as a result of a compression of a nerve. The nerve that becomes compressed is the “median nerve” that runs down the arm and through the “carpal tunnel” of the wrist.
Causes
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is called a “syndrome” due to there being known and theorised causes.

  • Generally the cause is “anything that causes compression of the median nerve”  including arthritis, fractures, infection and inflammation.
  • There are varying reports and widespread debate on repetitive strain being another possible cause(1).
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is also associated with certain conditions (e.g. diabetes and hyperthyroidism)
  • Pregnancy can also be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • An Idiopathic cause (unknown cause) is also listed as a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Symptoms commonly come on gradually
  • Pain can become moderate to severe in some cases
  • Numbness, pins and needles, altered sensation and pain are commonly in the 1st and 2nd fingers.
  • There may be some swelling in the hand
  • Pain is often worse at night.
  • Weakness can develop and you may begin to lose dexterity (e.g. may find it difficult to button shirt or brush hair).
  • In some chronic cases there may be some muscle wasting in the hand.
Treatment

  • Osteopathic approach is based on past medical history and examination to determine treatment and management.
  • Generally treatment is aimed at reducing pressure on the nerve through direct treatment to the wrist and also treatment to the elbow, shoulder, neck and general body.
  • Your osteopath will also prescribe you with stretching exercises with an aim to reduce pressure within the carpal tunnel.
Management

  • Your osteopath will perform a past medical history and physical examination with an aim to determine the cause.
  • A short course of pain and anti-inflammatory medications may be indicated as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Your osteopath will assist in identifying the activities that may be aggravating your carpal tunnel syndrome and will work on a management strategy to reduce these factors. This will include lifestyle, work and ergonomic factors.
  • Your osteopath may refer you to a specialist/general practitioner for investigative testing such as imaging, nerve conduction studies, blood testing etc.
  • Splint: a splint can be applied over a relatively short course (commonly <1-2 weeks) to settle the wrist pressure down. It is commonly worn at night to avoid accidental changes in wrist motion that may cause extra pressure.

Coolangatta Tweed Osteopathy

(07) 5536 1826

32 Bay Street Tweed Heads