Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition which involves nerve compression in the wrist, resulting in pain, pins and needles and weakness in the hand.
How does it happen?
Within the wrist is a structure called the carpal tunnel. It is a tunnel formed by the wrist bones and enclosed by a ligament over the top (transverse ligament). Tendons from the forearm muscles are transmitted through the tunnel to attach into the hand and fingers, with the median nerve also following this pathway. CTS occurs when the space in the carpal tunnel is reduced, placing pressure on the median nerve.
- Numbness, burning sensations and/or pins and needles in the thumb, index finger and middle finger
- Wrist pain, particularly at night
- Forearm pain
- Weak grip strength or difficulty grasping objects
Who is most commonly affected?
- Those with arthritis in the hand or previous fractures – The wrist bones that form the carpal tunnel space may be compromised
- Pregnant women – Hormonal changes may increase fluid retention and compress nerves in the wrist
- Anyone who undertakes repetitive hand movements – Eg, tradesmen who use vibrating power tools or receptionists who do a lot of typing on a keyboard
- Often seen in those with diabetes and thyroid conditions
Can osteopathy help?
An osteopath may help reduce the discomfort associated with CTS and therefore improve function of the upper limb. You may be advised to rest and avoid provocative activities, improve your posture, wear a wrist splint or be prescribed rehabilitation exercises to strenghen the wrist.
Your osteopath may recommend imaging or to consult with an orthopaedic specialist for further medical options.