Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an inflammation of the nerve that runs from the forearm to the fingers, when the nerve is squeezed in the tunnel of wrist bones (carpals) and ligaments (the tissues that connect bones). Symptoms include aching, burning or numbness or, in many cases, a tingling sensation in the palm, wrist, thumb or fingers. The thumb muscle may also weaken, making it difficult to use the hand normally. Occasionally, pain will be referred upwards to the elbow.
The condition can be caused by a repetitive wrist motion (such as typing), sudden weight gain/obesity, fluid accumulation, or repetitive use of the muscles at the back of the forearm without adequate opportunities for stretching and recovery. Other triggers include pregnancy, the menopause, diabetes, an underactive thyroid, arthritis, poor posture or poor working practices.
Since prevention is better than cure, it is recommended that frequent breaks are taken to allow muscles to disengage. If the problem becomes severe, Osteopaths can employ a number of techniques, including the use of massage techniques to help drain excess fluid and exercises to help to release the tension around the nerve, ensuring the problem does not become chronic. Myofascial release techniques (involving specific exercises and self-massage), combined with self-stretching, can also improve the diameter of the carpal tunnel, reducing pressure on the median nerve and increasing the ‘loudness’ of nerve signals.