Carpal Tunnel and Going to a Hand Therapist

Carpal Tunnel and Going to a Hand Therapist

by Stephanie Meadows

Have you been experiencing numbness, pain, or tingling in your hand that moves down into your wrist? Although these could be the symptoms of complications from injury, chronic pain and numbness can point to other conditions, such as arthritis, or more commonly, a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

You rely on the use of your hands for almost everything you do on a daily basis. However, when you have constant pain and discomfort in your hands and wrists, from conditions such as CTS, these simple tasks become more difficult and uncomfortable.

The carpal tunnel is on the palm side of your wrist, surrounded by bones and ligaments. It houses a main nerve to your hand, known as the median nerve, as well as the nine tendons that bend your fingers. The median nerve provides sensation to the palm side of your thumb and fingers, except your little finger. It also provides nerve signals to move the muscles around the base of your thumb. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes symptoms of tingling and numbness in your fingers and hand. This sensation can even wake you up from sleeping and may extend from your wrist up your arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome stems from anything that crowds, irritates, or compresses the median nerve, such as a wrist fracture, swelling, or inflammation. According to research, CTS affects three to six percent of the adult population, and symptoms usually begin gradually without any specific injury.

People with this disorder can ease discomfort by taking frequent breaks to rest the hands and wrist, and avoid activities that worsen your symptoms, along with using ice to reduce any swelling and inflammation. If these don’t relieve your symptoms within a few weeks, a visit to a hand and wrist specialist is necessary to avoid further complication, and to relieve pain. The doctor may recommend additional options such as wrist splinting, medications, hand therapy, or even surgery, depending on how advanced your carpal tunnel syndrome is.

As mentioned before, if the symptoms of your carpal tunnel syndrome become severe, surgery will be needed to relieve pressure on the median nerve. Afterwards, your orthopedist will sometimes suggest doing hand therapy, to help heal faster, and most importantly to improve nerve function and restore optimal mobility and function of your hand and wrist, without pain. During hand therapy, exercises are performed to improve nerve healing, increase range of motion and strength, reduce the formation of scar tissue, and decrease swelling.

Our goal at Watauga Orthopaedics is to help our patients regain function and mobility, while making a full recovery, so that you can return to the activities that you love to do. In order to achieve this goal, our certified hand therapist works with patients suffering from debilitating hand or wrist injuries or conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. She has specialized training in the complex anatomy of the hand and wrist, along with advanced skills in post-operative therapy programs for injuries of the hand and wrist. 

To learn more about how hand therapy can help those with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), call Watauga Orthopaedics at (423) 282-9011 to request an appointment, or schedule an appointment online.