Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel. This carpal tunnel opens into your wrist area and is formed by the carpal bones located at the bottom of the wrist and the transverse carpal ligament near the wrist top. The job of the median nerve is to support sensory and motor functions in the thumb and three middle fingers. Compression of this nerve can cause irritating symptoms.
Table of Contents
- 1 Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- 2 What Are the Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- 3 How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?
- 4 Osteopathic Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- 5 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome FAQs
- 6 Book an Appointment
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome usually starts gradually and may cause the following symptoms as it progresses.
- Tingling or numbness: One of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome is tingling and numbness in your hands or fingers. Tingling or numbness usually occurs in the palm side of the thumb, index, ring, or middle fingers. It doesn’t, however, affect the little finger. This irritating sensation may radiate to the arm from the wrist. It may also occur when driving and can wake you from your sleep. This sensation usually becomes permanent in the thumb.
- Weakness: Carpal tunnel syndrome may cause enough weakness to make you drop objects from your hands unintentionally. This weakness usually occurs due to numbness in your hand or weak pinching muscles of your thumbs, affecting your grip power. These muscles are generally controlled by the median nerve.
What Are the Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome usually happens due to the pressure on the median nerve and inflammation in the wrist. This inflammation can cause pain and swelling.
Generally, wrist and median nerve inflammation occur due to an underlying medical condition. It may also be due to obstructed blood flow. Common conditions linked with CTS include:
- Thyroid dysfunction
- High blood pressure
- Fluid retention due to menopause or pregnancy
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Trauma or fracture in the wrist area
- Anatomical factors that can interfere with the space within the carpal tunnel, such as a fracture, trauma, or bone disorders
Repeatedly overextending the wrist can worsen carpal tunnel syndrome by causing more swelling and compression of the median nerve. Particular movements that lead to this swelling and nerve compression include:
- Wrist position when typing on the keyboard or using the mouse
- Operating tools and equipment that cause excessive vibration
- Any frequent movements that cause your wrist to overextend, like typing
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?
Your doctor may perform multiple tests while diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome, mainly to rule out other issues that cause similar symptoms. They may start by asking some questions about your medical history. And then, they will perform physical checks on your hands, arms, shoulders, and neck to analyze whether the pain is due to other medical conditions like arthritis or an injury. They will also ask about you’re your routine physical activities.
The doctor will also check your wrist and fingers to look for swelling, tenderness, warmness, or discoloration. They will also check each finger to look for any loss of sensation.
They will then proceed to specific tests to check if the pain or irritation in your wrist is due to carpal tunnel syndrome. Here is a brief overview of those tests.
- Tinel’s sign: The doctor will use a reflex hammer to tap or press on the median nerve. If this test causes tingling or an electric shock-like sensation in your fingers, you have carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Phalen’s maneuver: This maneuver is also known as the wrist-flexion test. During this test, you will be asked to press the back of your hands and fingers while your fingers pointed down and wrists flexed. If staying that way for a couple of minutes causes a tingling sensation or numbness in your fingers, you have CTS.
- Two-point discrimination test: During this test, the doctor will touch two distinct objects on your skin and ask if you feel them as two objects or one. The distance at which two points feel like one on your skin will help your practitioner analyze the nerve function and compression.
- Nerve conductive velocity test: This test is one of the most accurate measures to check for evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome. It mainly involves observing how fast an electric signal travels between the nerve and the target muscle. During this test, a doctor places a small electrode on the skin near the elbow. They then release a mild electric current onto the median nerve. The time taken by the electric signal to travel along the nerve helps determine the amount of nerve damage.
- Ultrasound, X-rays, and MRI: These tests allow you to check your nerves and muscles. An x-rays test will help rule out a broken bone or arthritis. And an MRI or ultrasound will provide an image of the muscles, tendons, and nerves.
Osteopathic Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Osteopathic manipulative medicine is a viable option to manage or treat carpal tunnel syndrome. This treatment is generally combined with a physical exam and other diagnostic procedures to localize the nerve entrapment and monitor the condition’s progression.
Osteopathic medicine is a non-invasive treatment that can be used as a standalone procedure or combined with other methods to treat CTS. Here is a brief overview of the steps involved in CTS treatment with osteopathic medicine.
- Your osteopath will run a complete diagnostic procedure to gather all details of your problem. They do this to avoid applying and suggesting wrong stretches that might further aggravate the condition.
- After that, you will likely be instructed to stop the activity that caused carpal tunnel syndrome. The practitioner may also prescribe using a sprint to prevent problematic arm movement.
- After determining the cause of the problem, your osteopath will apply gentle pressure to the forearm, wrist, and other areas linked to or contributing to the problem.
- You will get complete instructions regarding how to take care of your injury and how to perform rehabilitation exercises at home to promote healing. At-home treatment instructions may vary for every step of recovery, so pay timely visits to your osteopath.
- You will also get instructions to change or reduce the activity that contributed to the problem.
All these problems help manage CTS and prevent its progression. Several treatment sessions may be required to achieve the desired results.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome FAQs
Can carpal tunnel resolve without surgery?
Yes, carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with non-surgical methods, such as osteopathy, as long as its symptoms are not severe and the problem is diagnosed early.
Is carpal tunnel serious?
Generally, carpal tunnel syndrome is not a severe problem and is treatable with several procedures and techniques, including osteopathy. Once treated or managed, this problem doesn’t leave lasting damage to your wrist or hand.
Why is carpal tunnel worse at night?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is worse or more painful at night because the lack of arm movement due to sleep causes increased fluid buildup around the median nerve. This fluid retention increases pressure, causing the symptoms to become more pronounced.
Book an Appointment
Osteopathic treatment is a safe and one of the most effective options to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, provided that you get this treatment from a skilled practitioner. At Euromed Clinic Dubai, we offer osteopathy treatments from the hands of highly skilled osteopaths. We provide highly individualized and customized treatments to provide our patients with quicker and long-lasting relief from CTS and other issues. For more information or to book a consultation, please fill out the form below.