Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful and often debilitating condition that affects the hand and wrist due to compression of the median nerve. The symptoms can range from mild tingling in the hands to severe pain, numbness, and weakness, making it difficult to perform everyday activities. Fortunately, physical therapy can help reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel and improve the patient’s ability to use their hands and wrists.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome and what to look for when finding a qualified physical therapist. We will also look at ways to prevent and manage the recurrence of symptoms. Finally, we will provide recommendations for a qualified physical therapist and what to expect during the treatment process.
Definition of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by compression of the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. Symptoms include numbness and tingling in the fingers and pain and weakness in the wrist and hand. CTS can cause difficulty with daily activities such as typing or writing and can also lead to loss of grip strength.
Overview of Physical Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Physical therapy is an essential part of the treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Physical therapists use various techniques to help reduce pain, improve strength and flexibility, and increase the range of motion in the wrist and hand. Therapeutic exercises such as stretching, strengthening, and range of motion activities may be recommended to facilitate healing. Other treatments may include massage, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and hot/cold therapy. A physical therapist can also teach proper body mechanics and ergonomic principles to help reduce stresses on the wrist and hand. Improving posture and posture awareness and providing adaptive equipment such as wrist splints may also be beneficial.
Additionally, the therapist may offer advice about lifestyle changes that can help reduce inflammation and pain. Recovery from wrist and hand injuries typically requires several weeks of physical therapy to gain a full range of motion, strength, and functional ability. Working closely with a healthcare provider or therapist can ensure a safe return to activities and prevent further complications.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can be highly beneficial in treating carpal tunnel syndrome. Physical therapists can provide education on how to manage best and reduce symptoms, as well as help identify potential underlying causes of the condition. In addition, physical therapists have the expertise to develop an individualized plan of care tailored to the patient’s needs. The goals of physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome should include the following:
- Strengthens Muscles and Improves Mobility – The primary goal of physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome is to strengthen the muscles in the arms and hands. Weakness in these areas can lead to further strain and pressure on the median nerve, causing increased symptoms. Physical therapists can develop exercises that focus on strengthening and improving the range of motion in the affected area, helping to reduce pain and improve function.
- Reduces Swelling and Inflammation – The carpal tunnel is a tiny space, and swelling in the area can cause further compression of the median nerve. Physical therapy can help reduce this swelling by using cold laser therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation. These treatments can help reduce inflammation and improve circulation to the area.
- Increases Range of Motion – When the median nerve is compressed, it can restrict movement in some areas of the hand or wrist. Physical therapists will assess and measure the joint range of motion to determine what needs to be improved. They can then develop exercises and stretches that focus on increasing joint flexibility and mobility, helping reduce pain and restore function.
- Prevents Recurrence of Symptoms – Physical therapists can also teach Carpal Tunnel Syndrome patients ways to modify activities that may be causing symptoms. These modifications include proper positioning and posture and stretching and strengthening exercises. A physical therapist can provide education on ergonomics and lifestyle modifications to reduce strain on the wrist, such as taking breaks throughout the day or using a splint or brace to support the wrist and limit awkward movements.
Having these four items as your primary goal, a physical therapist can design a treatment plan that meets each patient’s individual needs.
In conclusion, physical therapy is an effective treatment option for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Through a comprehensive assessment, physical therapists can create customized treatment plans to address each patient’s needs and help them reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life. It is important to remember that prevention is key in treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Taking the necessary steps to avoid injury and repetitive motion can help to ensure long-term, successful management of the condition.
If you are experiencing any symptoms described in this article, speak with one of our physical therapists as a possible treatment plan. Your therapist will conduct a full assessment to determine the best action and create an individualized treatment program to target your specific needs. Contact us today at (803) 207-8177 to get started!