Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition affecting millions of people. It causes pain, numbness, and limited wrist, hand, and finger use. If you or a loved one is living with carpal tunnel, it is important to learn more about the condition and how physical therapy strategies can help manage its symptoms.  

Causes and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel occurs when the median nerve becomes pinched in the wrist. This is often the result of everyday or work-related activities that cause excessive flexing or extension of the hand. Frequent use of power tools, manual labor, and other repetitive wrist motions can also contribute to it. 

The disorder presents differently in people; however, it does have a common set of symptoms that includes:

  • Hand and grip weakness
  • Numbness, burning, or tingling in the wrist, hand, thumb, and fingers
  • Pain that radiates from the wrist toward the shoulder
  • Poor fine motor skills or coordination in the affected hand

You may notice these start out very mild and gradually increase over time. Some people adapt to them as the condition progresses, not realizing there is an issue until it is severe. Unfortunately, this can result in permanent damage to the median nerve. If you suspect you have carpal tunnel, you should seek treatment with an experienced physical therapist as soon as possible. 

PT Strategies for Carpal Tunnel

Physical therapists use several strategies to treat carpal tunnel symptoms and improve function in the wrist and hand. One of the first approaches is to reduce inflammation in the wrist so that the nerve has more space. This can go a long way to alleviating pain and tingling associated with carpal tunnel.

Your therapist may also recommend nerve gliding exercises. As the name suggests, these help the median nerve move more smoothly within the wrist.  

Some therapists may suggest wearing a brace to help maintain proper alignment through the wrist. Discussing this option with your provider before using one is important because the wrong splint may aggravate symptoms instead of relieve them. 

Surgery is an effective long-term treatment option for carpal tunnel pain. However, many patients find symptom relief through other modalities, including lifestyle modifications and physical therapy. In fact, Mount Vernon physical therapy is a great way to improve your success before and after carpal tunnel surgery.

Carpal Tunnel Relief Tips

there are many different at-home therapies to reduce carpal tunnel pain and discomfort. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can provide relief from pain and inflammation. They are generally considered safe and are widely available over the counter. 

Elevating the wrists and hands is another strategy that you may find helpful, as is applying heat to the affected area. One of the most effective things you can do for yourself is to stop the activities that contribute to your discomfort. These are typically repetitive motions that cause jarring, extension, or flexing of the wrist and hand. Implementing physical therapy strategies such as exercise, stretching, and gentle pain management is a solid approach to treating carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Learn how PT can help your carpal tunnel symptoms at your local Redmond physical therapy office.