Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

What is Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common condition of the wrist and hand. CTS affects 1 out of every 20 Americans each year. Carpel tunnel is caused by the compression of the Median Nerve, a nerve that runs through your arm and the first 3 digits of your hand. In order to enter your hand, the Median Nerve has to travel though a sort of tunnel of connective tissues and ligaments (shown in picture below). This channel serves to protect the nerve as well as the other tendons that run through there. Inflammation, or swelling, of/around the tunnel can lead to compression of the median nerve, resulting in pain.

What causes the swelling that compresses the nerve?

Many things can cause CTS including:

  • injury to the wrist
  • hormone or metabolic changes (thyroid conditions, menopause, pregnancy)
  • water retention
  • diabetes
  • some medications
  • degenerative and rheumatoid arthritis

Most commonly, CTS is developed from extreme wrist positions and overuse. Jobs that require the use of hand tools, especially tools that vibrate can especially aggravate the wrist. Computer use can also lead to CTS but those who work on assembly lines are actually 3 times more likely to develop CTS than someone who performs regular data entry work. CTS is also common in leisure activities such as racquetball, handball, and playing the violin and other string instruments.

Signs and Symptoms of CTS:

CTS usually starts gradually and becomes more severe as time progresses. It tends to start as a burning or tingling sensation with occasional numbness in the palm of the hand and the first 2-3 fingers. As the condition progresses, weakness of the hand and arm are often observed. Objects are dropped and hand grip is weak and painful.

How can a Physical Therapist help?

Typically the only two treatments used for CTS are either surgery or physical therapy or both. Starting with a physical therapist may save you from having to have surgery to relieve pain. PTs can use exercises, stretching, heat, ice, massage, etc to relieve pain and teach you how to manage/prevent future pain from your CTS.

Can CTS be prevented?

Although there are not proven strategies for preventing CTS, certain things will minimize stress on your hands and wrist and minimize your chance for the development of CTS.

  • Take frequent breaks when performing repetitive activities
  • Keep your wrists in a relaxed and neutral position
  • improve your posture to minimize unnecessary strain on your shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands
  • keep your hands warm to prevent stiffness and injury
  • maintain good health
  • adjust your work environment to prevent unnecessary strain on your body when performing your work duties

Aches or Pains? We can help. Call today and schedule your free 15 minute pain assessment with a physical therapist to determine if we can help you to be pain free. Call 414-858-1361 or email or check out our website at



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