What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition affecting the forearm, hand, wrist and fingers with pain, tingling and numbness.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage in the wrist that is made up of small bones. Through it runs a sheath of tissue that houses the tendons and nerves used for moving the fingers. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when this tunnel becomes restricted causing a compression of the median nerve responsible for the movement and feeling of the hand and thumb. It is not known what causes the carpal tunnel to compress but genetics, pregnancy and repeated movements are all considered possible triggers.
What are the common difficulties associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The main difficulty that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome causes is a reduced grip strength in the hand and pain upon use of the hand. This can produce the following challenges:
- Writing and using key boards for work or school
- Meal preparation, particularly using knives and kitchen utensils, opening bottles and jars, lifting heavy pans and plates
- Washing and dressing activities such as difficulty fastening buttons, poppers and zips, opening bottles, turning taps on and off
- Night waking due to pain
If you would like to learn more about how we as occupational therapists can help people overcome common difficulties associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, you will find some useful links at the bottom of this page.
How can occupational therapy help people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Our hand therapy team are experienced at working with clients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to minimise its impact on daily life. Below are some of the practical ways that an occupational therapist can treat a client with Carpel Tunnel Syndrome:
- Splinting - a splint can rest the hand and allow any swelling to reduce. It also can minimise pain and discomfort and reduce the risk of secondary complications
- Minor aids for around the house - such as kettle tippers, long handled shoe horns, key openers and many other useful gadgets
- Exercises - a programme of hand therapy exercises to strengthen the hand, wrist, and shoulder
- Massage - this can assist with pain and maximise movement
- Advice on routine and how to incorporate rest - through discussion, an occupational therapist will identify what activities you need to complete in your daily routine and then advise on any alternative techniques that you can adopt to relive pressure on the carpal tunnel.