What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common cause of numbness and tingling in the hand. The Carpal Tunnel is a space in the wrist, around the palm. All of the muscles that bend the fingers and thumb pass through the Carpal Tunnel. Also in this space is the median nerve, which is one of the three main nerves of the upper limb and it supplies sensation to the lateral parts of the hand and power to some of the muscles in the hand. When this nerve becomes compressed within the Carpal Tunnel, the numbness and tingling that follows are symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
This can have a few different causes: direct pressure to the median nerve in the Carpal Tunnel, repetitive hand gripping or an increase in fluid in the hand ie. during pregnancy or as a result of hand trauma. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms include numbness and tingling in the hand, often occurring overnight or when gripping objects, pain around the wrist and forearm and occasionally dropping objects. The median nerve supplies sensation to the palmer side of the thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger. Although it can feel like the whole hand is numb, the little finger is never affected in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your Hand Therapist can complete several clinical tests to determine if your hand numbness and tingling might be a result of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Your Hand Therapist can provide a number of conservative treatments which include a custom-made wrist splint worn overnight, median nerve glide exercises and education on tasks to avoid that may be aggravating your symptoms.