Is Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) causing pain?


Is Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) causing pain?

Why does my hand hurt at night?

Is Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) causing my pain?

The Carpal Tunnel is narrow and pain is brought on by the compression of the median nerve in your hand and is likely the most common compressive focal neuropathy seen by your local physio.[1]

The median nerve carries signals to the brain from these parts of your hand:

  • Thumb
  • Index finger
  • Middle finger
  • Parts of the ring finger
  • Parts of the palm closest to the thumb

CTS can present with a complex set of symptoms and signs including:

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty telling the difference between hot and cold
  • Reduced co-ordination

One of the most common symptoms Lance Cove patients report is being woken up in the middle of the night by the pain.

What can cause Carpal Tunnel syndrome?

Any condition that reduces the amount of space within the carpal tunnel can cause CTS.

A number of factors have been associated with a higher likelihood of developing Carpal Tunnel syndrome, including:

  • Obesity
  • Fracture
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis of the hand
  • Pregnancy
  • Inflammation
  • Fluid retention
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Workplace factors

Some activities can trigger symptoms in people with carpal tunnel syndrome. But they don’t necessarily cause it, including:

  • Driving
  • Reading
  • Typing
  • Holding a phone

How can a physio help treat carpal tunnel syndrome?

Determining the root cause and contributing factors is key in the management of CTS.

For instance, if your symptoms are related to a fracture or an injured tendon, reducing inflammation will help reduce pressure in the carpal tunnel.

Depending on the root cause of your CTS, your physio may recommend that you:

  • Wear a specific carpal tunnel splint that helps keep the wrist in a neutral position to minimise the pressure in the carpal tunnel
  • Rest from aggravating activities to help settle inflammation
  • Start a program with stretches and exercises that help to mobilise the median nerve, strengthen the muscles around the wrist and stretch the structures around the wrist to help settle symptoms and to prevent recurrences.

Patients with mild to moderate CTS symptoms can be effectively treated by an expert physio.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can usually be managed quite effectively through a combination of wrist posture modification, use of a wrist splint, as well as wrist exercises such as tendon and nerve glides.

However, if you still experience symptoms after these approaches, we will work closely with your specialists in other treatments including injections and surgery to design a prehab and rehabilitation program for you.

What if my doctor has recommended carpal tunnel surgery?

Rehabilitation after carpal tunnel surgery with your physio plays a critical role after surgery; it will affect how quickly you get back to your work, sport and the things you love.

Take the time to meet with your Lane Cove physio to create a prehab and rehab program that will have your recovery starting from day one.

If you are suffering from hand and wrist pain or ongoing finger pain, it may be helpful to consider booking an appointment with a physio to investigate the root cause. For more information, give us a call on (02) 9428 5772 or send an email to [email protected]

[1] Duckworth, Andrew D., MBChB, MSc, Jenkins, P. J., MBBS, & McEachan, J. E., MBBS. (2014). Diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. Journal of Hand Surgery, 39(7), 1403-1407