Promising Options for Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

March 18, 2014 in STSMPT

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. Without intervention, CTS can lead to marked discomfort, impaired hand function, and disability. Treatment should begin as early as possible when carpal tunnel symptoms arise. There are several physical therapy options that can provide positive, long-lasting results.

Ultrasound: A study in the British Medical Journal shows that 74% of patients treated with ultrasound therapy reported satisfactory improvement or complete remission of carpal tunnel syndrome at six-month follow-ups.1 Ultrasound was administered daily for 10 days and then twice-weekly for five weeks.

Bracing and Splinting: One study finds that a hand brace significantly improves symptoms and function after four weeks, while another shows that splinting is effective when applied within three months of the onset of symptoms. 2, 3

Exercise and Stretching: The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing the positive effects of exercises and stretches that emphasized function of the spine and shoulder, stretching the wrists, and posture correction.4 The movements used in this study were drawn from yoga. Another study showed positive results from digital flexor tendon mobilizing exercises.5 Patients performing these exercises opted for surgery 39% less often.

Education: Simple measures such as increasing the size of a grip on equipment, rotating tasks to create breaks for the wrists, and changing the height of equipment to improve arm and wrist position may reduce and improve the symptoms of CTS.

If you are suffering with symptoms of carpal tunnel, give us a call. We may be able to implement an individualized treatment plan using one or more of these techniques to ensure positive outcomes.

1. Ebenbichler G, Resch K, Nicolakis P, et al. Ultrasound treatment for treating the carpal tunnel syndrome: randomised “sham” controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 316: 731-735.

2. Piehl J. Which nonsurgical treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome are beneficial? American Family Physician, 2003; 68 (4): 649-650.

3. Kruger V, Kraft G, Deitz J, et al. Carpal tunnel syndrome: objective measures and splint use. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 72: 517-520.

4. Garfinkel M, Singhal A, Katz W, et al. Yoga-based intervention for carpal tunnel syndrome: a randomized trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 280 (18): 1601-1603.

5. Rozmaryn L, Dovelle S, Rothman E, et al. Nerve and tendon gliding exercises and the conservative management of carpal tunnel syndrome. Journal of Hand Therapy, 11 (3): 171-179.

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