Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Not sure who to see about Carpal tunnel syndrome? Wondering if a Physio can help with carpal tunnel. This blog will introduce you to three things you need to know:

Do you have any of the following:

1. Wrist or forearm pain?
2. Pins and needles and/or numbness in your hand or fingers?
3. Weakness when gripping or lifting heavy things?
4. Or is any of the above bothering your sleep at night?

You may be experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and the following blog may interest you.

The body is made up of many nerves that pass electrical signals to allow for movement and sensation. These nerves function similar to a road or motorway, passing their signals (the “cars”) between the brain and the rest of the body, and back again. Structurally, these resemble pieces of string that travel from the spinal cord out to the fingers and toes. These “pieces of string” must be able to stretch and move to adapt to different positions of the body to allow them to conduct signals effectively.

When the ability of a nerve to move becomes restricted in any way, a “neuropathy” may occur. The word neuropathy is derived from “neuro”, meaning nerve, and “pathy”, meaning suffering or disease. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common “neuropathies” and occurs where the median nerve, one of the main nerves in the arm, becomes irritated through the “carpal tunnel”, or bones of the wrist. For example, if the median nerve is not able to move its best through the carpal tunnel, this can bring on pain and nerve-related symptoms.

When faulty median nerve movement is suspected, the scientific literature supports exercises that can improve nerve movement as a treatment for peripheral neuropathy.
In essence, it is supported that enabling a nerve to move better near joints like the wrist may help to ease symptoms of nerve pain, for example with carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome research:

A recent Ultrasound study carried out by one of our Physiotherapists, David, out of Auckland University of Technology (AUT), with Associate Professor Richard Ellis (AUT), aimed to investigate the best way to encourage movement for the median nerve. This is one of the main nerves in the upper arm, and that in question during Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

The research showed that nerve movement exercises called “sliders” allowed the greatest movement of the median nerve to occur. This was found in a variety of different arm positions and looked at different locations for the median nerve at the wrist and further into the forearm.
Importantly, these slider exercises also place the median nerve under the least “strain” (defined as relative length change), which is favourable when dealing with neuropathy such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

What that means for you:

  • If you have been struggling with the above symptoms of nerve-related pain, and believe you have carpal tunnel syndrome; organize an appointment with one of our physiotherapists so they can work with you and advise the best treatment options.
  • Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may include nerve movement exercises, such as those studied in this research project. Your physiotherapist can show you how to include some nerve exercises into your daily life to improve your symptoms.
  • The research in this blog did not look at how often these exercises should be done. It is likely that maintaining regular activity and whole-body exercises, is key to improving your nerve function and helping you feel better.

Come and see us at Active Health. Let’s get you back on the right track!

Author: David Lalor – Physiotherapist at Active Health Waikato

3 Tips for Lower Back Pain From a Hamilton Physio

3 Tips for Lower Back Pain From a Hamilton Physio

Do you have lower back pain? Is it preventing you from doing the things you love? Let us help you with the following pro tips for getting your back pain under control. At least 4 out of 5 people will experience low back pain at some stage in their lifetime – it’s pretty common! If you have low back pain currently, and you want to take the first steps to work through it, let’s get started.

First of all, STOP!

Do you have any of the following symptoms?

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Major trauma to your low back
  • Pain radiating down your legs
  • Pins and needles or loss of sensation in your legs
  • Loss of control of your bladder or bowel recently?

These signs, where low back pain is present, indicate something more serious may be underlying your pain. You should see your healthcare professional immediately, especially if these are recently worsening.

The best current literature available for low back pain advocates for the following:

1. Avoid bed rest – maintain your normal activities where you are able. Low back pain without the symptoms previously mentioned above is not a serious illness and has good prognosis. The pain you are feeling is likely not correlated with physical damage to your back, it is just sensitive to a few positions. That means you can go about your daily activities where you are able with the confidence you are helping your recovery!

2. Basic pain relief – the guidelines recommend simple anti-inflammatories (ie; ibuprofen, Nurofen, Voltaren) to be most effective, with the knowledge that for some people they can cause an upset stomach or other side effects. Take these as per the indication on the packet if needed, and see your pharmacist or doctor if you need further guidance or are concerned about using them.

3. Exercises – although there is a great discrepancy as to what form of exercise is best, the guidelines indicate that exercise is useful for the resolution of low back pain. These can either be done in the form of the normal daily exercise classes that you enjoy, a simple walk outside for 15-20 minutes, or get in touch if you would like to hear about some of our favourites. 
Note: Don’t feel as though you need to flare your back pain up doing these; the emphasis is on comfortable movement – just do what you can.

Please note: Imaging (ie; X-ray, MRI, etc) is recommended against the guidelines for low back pain without the symptoms mentioned above. However, if symptoms persist or worsen this may be useful.

We hope this information and the above steps help to get your low back pain under control. If you have any ongoing struggles or would like to get more advice on how to properly rehabilitate your low back and how to prevent injuries from happening in future, please get in touch and have a chat with one of our Physiotherapists! We’d be happy to get you back on track.

David LalorPhysiotherapist at Active Health Waikato