The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the underside of your wrist, made up of bones and ligaments. The median nerve passes through this passage way into the hand, where it controls the sensation of the thumbs and the first three fingers. The space in this narrow passageway becomes compromised due to scar tissue formation (after injuries), repetitive motions such as typing and mousing, arthritis and even fluid retention during pregnancy. The result is the nerve becomes compressed in the carpal tunnel, causing the sensation of pain, numbness and even weakness in the hand. Traditional treatments usually involve wearing a splint or wrist guard, the use of anti- inflammatory medications and in more serious cases steroid injections. Although these treatments do address the symptoms, the underlying cause of why the pain is occurring may remain neglected, which means that it is likely to recur after treatment. Osteopathic treatment involves improving the alignment of the bones in the wrist as well as reducing the tension in the ligaments of the forearm, wrist and hand in order to allow the nerve to freely pass. Stretching of the ligaments also has the benefit of allowing fluids to move freely and not add further compression within the wrist. In addition to this, your osteopath will also look at removing any tension in the pectoral(chest)muscle, arm, shoulder and neck to improve general mobility and ensure that there isn’t compression of the nerve further up in the arm, which can also contribute to the problem. What are the risk factors for developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
- Repetitive use of the wrists such as those involved in typing and using a mouse
- Poor posture
- Arthritis of the hand or wrist
- Previous traumatic injury of the wrist/hand
- Tips to prevent carpal tunnel:
- Ensure that the wrists are turned slightly at an outward angle towards your pinky finger
whenever typing or mousing.
- Stretching of the pectoral(chest) muscles to avoid nerve entrapment at the chest, which
ultimately can travel down and cause symptoms to show up in the hand.