Have you heard the term before but not sure what carpal tunnel syndrome is? Simply put, it is pain, pins and needles or numbness in your hand, caused by the compression of the median nerve. The symptoms can often be felt in your wrist and hands, with the pain is often described as shooting, piercing or sharp. Sometimes the pain can refer up your arm. The carpal tunnel is a normal part of your hand, when the median nerve passes through, but sometimes this area can become compressed causing pain.
- Trauma or injury to the wrist
- Mechanical problems with the wrist
- Work stress and posture
- Work equipment e.g. vibrating machinary
- Fluid retention in pregnancy or menopause
Early diagnosis and treatment it is important to avoid long term issues; muscle wasting, nerve damage. Diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome involves examination on the neck, shoulder and forearm to rule these out as the cause or determine their involvement in the hand symptoms. Tests of the hand include irritation and compression of the Median nerve and physical examination of the hand. Further testing can include nerve conduction tests and X-rays may be required.
Osteopaths commonly treat carpal tunnel syndrome, with the aim of treatment, relieving the tension on the median nerve and therefore relieving the symptoms in the hand. Stretches and lifestyle advice may given. Lifestyle changes may include frequent breaks at work, changing your desk set up, where possible using the opposite hand and so on. Stretches are aimed at improving the flexibility and reducing muscle tension in the forearm, as these muscles via tendons attach to the hand, to make it move.