Are you experiencing wrist pain or numbness in the fingers and hands that worsens at night? Carpal tunnel syndrome could be to blame. It’s a painful and debilitating condition that causes hand and wrist pain due to pressure on the nerves in the wrist. Read on to learn about carpal tunnel syndrome, what causes it and how it can be managed with the help of osteopathic therapy.
The carpal tunnel
The carpal tunnel refers to the narrow part of the wrist that opens to the hand. The median nerve and flexor tendons run through the carpal tunnel, helping to give feeling and movement to our fingers and thumb. The carpal ligaments and wrist bones surround the carpal tunnel, creating a rigid boundary.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the tunnel narrowing or the flexor tendons swelling with nowhere to go. This compresses the median nerve and reduces blood flow.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness and tingling in the thumb and fingers or palm that can feel like pins and needles.
- Weakness in the muscles of the hands; difficulty gripping things.
- Swollen fingers.
- Nerve pain in your wrist or hand that can be severe.
- Pain that radiates up your arm.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Inflammation can cause the swelling that compresses the median nerve. A number of conditions can cause this and are linked to carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Fluid retention in pregnancy
- High blood pressure
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Wrist fractures
The condition can be aggravated by repeated motion of the wrist when using a keyboard or mouse, using hand tools or power tools for extended periods of time or overextending the wrist when typing or playing piano.
Why is carpal tunnel syndrome common in pregnancy?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in pregnancy, with 3-5 out of every 10 women experiencing the condition. This is because pregnancy hormones promote fluid retention and swelling, and soften the ligaments. This causes the median nerve to be squashed in the carpal tunnel. It’s important to seek treatment to manage your symptoms, as the condition can continue after birth and be exacerbated by lifting and holding your baby in certain positions (e.g. while feeding).
How can osteopathic treatment help?
Osteopathic treatment can help to treat the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. As osteopaths, we will assess your symptoms and come up with an individualised care plan to reduce your symptoms and manage your pain.
Your treatment plan will depend on the symptoms you’re experiencing and may include ice therapy, gentle soft tissue massage, and joint manipulation. Exercises and stretches may be included as part of your treatment. Commonly with carpal tunnel syndrome, it is advised to take regular breaks from repetitive tasks and reduce movement of the wrists. A splint may be used to help with this.
If you fear you’re experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome, come and see us at Radius Osteopathic, Essendon. We are here to help! We will assess your symptoms and come up with a treatment plan to help relieve the pain. Call us on 93794151 or find us at http://www.radiusosteo.com.au to make an appointment.