WHAT IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
You may hear the term quite frequently, “carpal tunnel syndrome”. What does this mean exactly? This is a compression or pressure on the median nerve within the bottom portion of the wrist. The nerve has extra pressure added to it from the surrounding tendons or the ligament that spans over the top of the tunnel. This compression causes a disruption in the nerve signal that causes tingling, numbness, weakness and muscle atrophy, or loss of function and height.
HOW CAN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY HELP?
Occupational therapy, especially at Desert Hand and Physical Therapy, can help conservatively manage carpal tunnel symptoms in many ways! We help with an exercise routine that can allow the nerve more space to breathe and glide to perform its functions more easily. We also make custom orthoses that have been proven by research to reduce inflammation on the nerve over night! Did you know nerves are most active over night? Our custom splints (pictured below) provide an opportunity for the nerve to remain neutral and safe over night and improve conduction. Also, therapy helps with some activity modifications that help you continue to do all your activities with reduced pain and symptoms. Sometimes, a small change in positioning can create a big change for your pain!
WHAT ARE SOME EXERCISES THAT CAN HELP?
- 1. Median Nerve Glides: In a sequence: Start with your hand in a fist, straighten your fingers, move your wrist backward to extension, bring the thumb away from the palm, pull to stretch the thumb to the floor, and rotate the hand to palm up. (See photos below)
- 2. Tendon Glides: In a sequence: Start with your hand flat and fingers straight, make a “hook” by bending only the fingertips, roll the fingers to a fist, roll back to a “hook, and straighten the fingers. In another sequence: Start with you hand flat and fingers straight, make a “tabletop” position, flatten your fingers to a fist without curling the fingers, move back to a “table top” position and finish straight up and down. (See photos below)
We are ready and exited to help you at Desert Hand and Physical Therapy with all types of pain and impairments in the hand. If you have carpal tunnel or are worried you may, please give us a call at 855-828-6361 or visit our website for new patient appointment inquiries. We are ready and excited to help!
Brittany Moya MS, OTR/L, CHT
Full bio for Brittany can be found by clicking the photo above.