Woman attending physiotherapy session
Woman attending physiotherapy session

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common problem involving a trapped nerve in the wrist.

Carpal tunnel syndrome typically occurs in association with activities that place repetitive stress through the forearm and wrist. These activities may include sports such as gymnastics, cycling, golf or racquet sports as well as manual work such as painting, carpentry, bricklaying, chopping wood, repetitive use of a screwdriver, use of vibrating machinery, knitting and sewing or working on a desktop computer. Carpal tunnel syndrome may also occur from other activities involving forceful or repetitive gripping of the hand.

It is common for individuals to develop this condition following a sudden increase in activities that place stress on the forearms or due to a change in these activities. Occasionally, carpal tunnel syndrome may develop suddenly. This can be due to a fall onto an outstretched hand causing a sprain or fracture of the wrist, or due to a forceful movement involving heavy lifting or a gripping force through the wrist.

Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome settle well with appropriate physiotherapy. This includes a thorough assessment by the physiotherapist to diagnose which elements have contributed to the progression of the condition, with subsequent correction of these factors.

The success rate of treatment for patients with this condition is largely dictated by patient compliance. One of the key components of treatment is that the patient rests sufficiently from ANY activity that increases their pain until they are symptom free. Activities which place large amounts of stress through the forearm should be minimized, these include: racquet sports, gripping activities, opening jars, cans or doors, carrying or lifting. Resting from aggravating activities ensures that the body can begin the healing process in the absence of further tissue damage. Once the patient can perform these activities pain free, a gradual return to these activities is indicated provided there is no increase in symptoms.

Treatment may comprise of:

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Electrotherapy
  • Bracing or splinting
  • Joint mobilization
  • Dry needling/Acupuncture
  • Ice or heat treatment
  • Training and activity modification advice
  • Technique correction
  • Devising an appropriate return to activity plan
  • Progressive exercises to improve flexibility and strength education

Ignoring symptoms or adopting a ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude is likely to lead to the problem becoming chronic. Immediate, appropriate treatment in individuals with this condition is essential to ensure a speedy recovery.

Physiotherapy treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of future recurrence. Please give us a call today on (03) 9873 3333 or send us an email if you would like further guidance about this condition.