Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the entrapment and compression of the median nerve. This nerve runs from the forearm to the hand where it branches to supply the thumb and the first two fingers. At the wrist, the nerve passes through the carpal tunnel, which is composed of the carpal (wrist) bones and the transverse carpal ligament. The carpal bones make up the base and sides of the tunnel so that a semicircular shape or valley is formed. Stretched across this is the tough transverse ligament. The median nerve, along with nine tendons that give the thumb and fingers movement, and their synovial sheaths pass through the tunnel and into the hand.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If any of the tendons or synovial sheaths in the carpal tunnel become swollen and inflamed, this puts excessive pressure on the median nerve because of the limited amount of space within the tunnel. Other ways in which the pressure becomes increased is when the tough transverse carpal ligament becomes thickened, a callus from a bone fracture or swelling from a rheumatic disease. When the median nerve becomes compressed, the nerve signals that are normally transmitted through the nerve become slowed which results in abnormal sensations in the affected hand.
- Weakness in the affected hand which affects grip.
- A feeling of numbness or tingling in the thumb, index and middle fingers and the thumb- side of the palm.
- Impaired coordination of the thumb, index and middle fingers so that fine movements become difficult.
- Pain in the wrist and hand that can stretch up as far as the elbow.
These exercises are more successful in patients with mild symptoms, and are not recommended for patients with severe symptoms. Patients who have persistent symptoms despite these exercises should discuss treatment with their osteopath.
- Extend and stretch both wrists and fingers acutely as if they are in a hand- stand position. Hold for a count of 5. Straighten both wrists and relax fingers.
- Make a tight fist with both hands. Then bend both wrists down while keeping the fist. Hold for a count of 5. Straighten both wrists and relax fingers, for a count of 5.
The exercise should be repeated 10 times. Then let your arms hang loosely at the side and shake them for a few seconds.