Your hands are one of your most valuable tools. Hands wielded the tools that crafted our society, and for just about everyone, they’re how you make a living. Whether you’re behind a keyboard or on a construction site, you’re going to need them functioning at their best.
Naturally, pain and reduced range of motion in your hands can be extremely debilitating. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common causes, with between 4 and 10 million Americans experiencing it. Thankfully, carpal tunnel syndrome is very treatable, and physical therapy can help!
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome gets its name from the passageway connecting your forearm to your hand. This narrow canal is full of bones, nerves, and veins, so it’s a bit cramped. It’s also home to flexor tendons, essential for maneuvering your fingers.
When one of those tendons swells or degenerates, the canal can narrow. This can compress a nerve called the median nerve, causing the unpleasant sensation of carpal tunnel syndrome.
How Do You Know if You Have It?
Speaking of unpleasant sensations, carpal tunnel’s symptoms are pretty distinctive. You may notice a tingling or burning sensation in your fingers, especially your thumb and index finger. Pain is also a potential sign, as is reduced grip strength and general weakness.
Carpal tunnel syndrome often correlates with work, particularly work that requires either strong grip or repetitive finger motions. The strong vibrations from a jackhammer or drill make CPS common among laborers, and constant work on a keyboard – especially when combined with poor posture – makes it a threat to office workers.
There is some inconclusive evidence that hypothyroidism and certain types of diabetes can increase your risk.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
Physical therapy can be very effective for treating carpal tunnel syndrome. Treatment will focus primarily on changing your habits: practicing proper posture, learning stretches, and rearranging your work area. Certain exercises may also be done to strengthen the muscles and tendons.
Your physical therapist can also connect you with special devices like a brace, anti-vibration gloves, ergonomic keyboards, and other tools to mitigate your symptoms and prevent future issues.
Do you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome? Physical therapy can help! Physical Therapy Partners is a fully independent physical therapy practice in the Triangle. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!