Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression or irritation of the median nerve at the carpal tunnel on the anterior side of the wrist. This condition is usually the result of repetitive wrist movement, such as regular and prolonged use of a computer mouse or repetitive movements at work. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also occur as a result of trauma or tendinitis of the flexor muscles of the wrist, or during pregnancy due to nerve compression as a result of swelling in the hands. It is estimated that about 8% of the adult population is affected, making it a relatively common condition. It is the most common compression neuropathy of the upper limb. Women are twice as affected as men.
Structures involved The nerves of the hand as well as the tendons of the flexor muscles pass to the anterior aspect of the wrist under the transverse carpal ligament that holds them in place. It is the passage formed by the transverse ligament and the bones of the wrist, called carpal bones, that forms the carpal tunnel. The syndrome usually occurs when, for some reason, the space in the carpal tunnel is reduced and the median nerve is compressed. In some cases, a dysfunction of the cervical spine can cause symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome without repetitive wrist extension motion.
Signs & Symptoms that you may experience Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause, but is not limited to, numbness and tingling in the first three fingers and half of the fourth, as well as atrophy of the hand muscles. During the night, you may experience pain and numbness from prolonged bending of the wrist. Symptoms are also exacerbated during repetitive activities involving wrist movements.
Recovery Your rehabilitation plan, health profile, fitness level and nutritional status affect the recovery time. Most of the time, you should recover completely from carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition may take a few months to fully recover.
WHAT TO DO Early Stage Relative rest is a good way to protect your carpal tunnel syndrome and prevent your injury from getting worse, but it is important to avoid over-protecting it. A few days of rest by reducing activities that cause pain may be necessary. A quick return to your daily activities, light cardiovascular exercise and specific mobility and strengthening exercises will allow for better recovery. Rehabilitation Follow your therapist’s advice. This will help you manage the various stages of the healing process and increase the odds of successful rehabilitation. Your therapist will accompany you during your rehabilitation program to restore your joint range of motion, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and functional status. According to the principles of carpal tunnel rehabilitation, reducing aggravating factors and recovering neural mobility, through neurodynamic exercises, would be an important part of functional recovery.
WHAT TO AVOID Do not rely solely on a passive treatment approach. Each phase of the rehabilitation process is important. Patients who actively participate in their treatment plan tend to recover more quickly. As soon as you feel better and the pain is well under control, introduce, in collaboration with your therapist, mild strengthening exercises based on your tolerance.