Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Treatment Options

What is it?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where the median nerve is compressed at the wrist.  The nerve may be compressed due to tendon enlargement, arthritis, a fracture or increased fluid in the wrist, such as in pregnancy or increased weight.  The symptoms are usually worse at night, due to the position of your wrists putting pressure onto the median nerve.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome graphic

What may I experience?

  • pins and needles
  • numbness
  • weakness
  • night pain
  • changes in sensation

Left hand with a typical night splint

What should I do?

In order to rest the nerves, the wrist needs to be immobilised for approximately six weeks at night.  This is done using a custom made splint that keeps your wrist in a comfortable, neutral position.

The splint may need to be worn during the day if your symptoms occur in the day. You may also need to rest from activities which could aggravate the condition.

You will need to talk to your therapist about how to modify the tasks that cause pain and increase the pins and needles. Three to six weeks of therapy are helpful in reducing the pain and protecting the nerve.  

Treatment involves stretches, heat massage, exercises, nerve glides, strengthening and education on how to manage your condition at home.

To help better assess your injury, fill in the DASH questionnaire.

What can I expect?

It depends on the severity and cause of the nerve compression.  If your symptoms are recent, then recovery should take place over six weeks.  If the symptoms have been around for a long time and the pain is intense, then you will require a longer recovery time.

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