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!