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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Let’s Explore the World of Wrist Woes!

Have you ever felt tingling, numbness and pain into your thumb, pointer finger, middle finger, and maybe a little into your ring finger? No fun! Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects a lot of people. Since knowledge is power, Alpha Osteopractic is here to help you understand the intricate world of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) how physical therapy can help!

Imagine this: there’s a special tunnel in your wrist called the carpal tunnel, and sometimes, things can go a bit wonky inside. CTS happens when the median nerve, which runs through that tunnel, gets trapped or squeezed. Ouch!

Now, let’s put on our detective hats and figure out what causes CTS. Some risk factors include previous wrist fractures (a broken bone), being pregnant, genetics, diabetes, and arthritis (when your joints get cranky). Even certain jobs, like using computers or doing repetitive tasks, can increase the chances of CTS. So, it’s important to give our wrists some extra love!

When CTS strikes, it can bring along some not-so-fun symptoms. People often feel pain, numbness, and tingling in their thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. It’s like getting zapped by an electric shock! Sometimes, weakness, clumsiness, and shrinkage of the muscles at the base of the thumb (called the thenar eminence) can tag along. But don’t worry, we’re going to explore ways to tackle these troubles!

Even when that tingling, numbness, and pain shows up in your hand, you want to have a medical professional, such as physical therapist, complete a comprehensive evaluation and make sure the symptoms are really comping from the carpal tunnel. They should conduct an interview with you, assess your movement, joint mobility tissue quality, strength and more. They might also use special tests, like the carpal compression test, Tinel’s test, or Phalen’s test. These tests help them find clues and see if there’s a problem in that carpal tunnel. Because the nerve exits your spine in your neck (cervical spine) and runs all the way down your arm into your hand. Your physical therapist will assess your upper back neck, shoulder, elbow, and hand to make sure to identify the root cause of your symptoms. This is because symptoms sometimes present in one are but are actually caused from another area of the body and compound effects.

If your physical therapist identifies anything unusual or you don’t show significant improvement in the first 3-4 visits, they may refer you to a physician for additional tests such as ultrasonography, electromyography, or nerve conduction velocity studies. These fancy words are just ways for them to see what’s going on inside. Ultrasonography checks the size of the median nerve, while electromyography and nerve conduction studies measure how well the nerves are working.

Now, let’s talk treatment! Surgery is usually the last resort if other methods haven’t worked or if there’s severe nerve damage. Doctors try to avoid it because sometimes it can make things worse. Instead, they start with conservative treatments. That means trying out things like physical therapy, splinting (fancy word for wearing a special wrist brace), ultrasound, oral steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and even vitamin B6 supplements. It’s like a whole arsenal of possible treatment options!

Here’s where things get really interesting. Physical therapy can address your symptoms and the root cause. When you see a quality physical therapist and they complete a comprehensive evaluation, they may find that your upper back or neck is stiff, or that you have restricted movement in your shoulder, elbow, or wrist joints. Your physical therapist will also assess the nerve mobility (how well it can glide through its entire length from your neck to your fingertips), your muscles and ligaments, sensation, and strength. Once identified, your physical therapist with use highly skilled treatment techniques to address the root cause of your woes. This may include spinal manipulation, shoulder adjustments, elbows and wrist mobilizations or manipulations, a variety of soft tissue techniques and specific exercises.

But wait, there’s more! Another technique called dry needling, can also provide relief. It focuses on targeting muscles, ligaments, and nerves to relieve pain, improve blood flow and stimulate healing. It’s like a secret weapon against wrist troubles! It’s a technique where super tiny needles are gently inserted into specific spots to target the tissues contributing to your symptoms. Dry needling can reduce pain, numbness, tingling, and even improve the function of your wrist. It’s like having a team of tiny helpers fixing things from the inside!

To wrap things up, CTS might seem like a tricky adventure, but there are many ways to conquer it. In physical therapy, many techniques can be used to alleviate you symptoms including dry needling, joint mobilizations and manipulation, cupping, scrapping, soft-tissue work, nerve glides, specific exercises and a progressive plan to return to full force. T

Alpha Osteopractic is your one-stop-shop to get all the needed treatment techniques to beat carpal tunnel syndrome and get back to the activities you love without pain, tingling or numbness. There’s a whole world of treatments waiting for us. So, let’s take care of our wrists, keep them strong, and keep exploring without any pesky wrist worries!

Remember, adventurers, knowledge is power, and now you’re equipped with the secrets of carpal tunnel syndrome. Keep on exploring, and don’t let anything stop you from reaching new heights!

Dr. Brittany A. Forbes, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT
We help athletes and active adults eliminate pain, optimize wellness, and achieve new heights without medications, injections or surgery.
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