Monday, March 21, 2011

Ask Us Anything: How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?

"Are there any other treatments, besides surgery, for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?"

Bill Hyland, MS, OT, Responds:

Bill Hyland, MS, OTCarpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the result of pressure or irritation to the median nerve.

CTS has many causes, such as repetitive movement, arthritis, injury and weight gain.

Persons with CTS can experience pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the wrists and fingers, thereby impacting motor skills in the hand. If left untreated, the symptoms can become progressively worse over time.

There are several non-surgical options in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome:
  • Avoid compression and wrist strain.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to repetitive hand movements, such as typing.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to cold and vibration.
  • Apply warm and/or cool compresses for intervals of around 20 minutes each. After 20 minutes, they should be removed and not reapplied until the skin has returned to room temperature.
  • Wear hand splints for wrist support.
  • Take medication as suggested by your physician.
  • Perform CTS exercises as suggested by your occupational therapist.
The treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome aims to reduce pressure and irritation to the median nerve. In doing so, a reduction in pain, tingling, numbness and weakness can occur, resulting in better hand function.

— Bill Hyland, MS, OT

Bill is an Occupational Therapist at Partners In Rehab Sisters Hospital, which provides Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy in Buffalo, NY.

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