If you have been reading our blog you’ll know that last week was the first installment of my two part post on carpal tunnel syndrome. This week we are going to look into how having a physical therapist can help.
After the evaluation, your physical therapist will prescribe your treatment plan based on your specific case.
How Physical Therapist Can Help
If your PT confirms early-stage CTS, treatment is an effective way to reduce your symptoms and get you back to your normal day-to-day routine. During your first visit with the physical therapist, be prepared to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible, as well as the things that make your symptoms worse.
Depending on what is causing your CTS, your therapy program could include the following:
– Exercises to increase the strength of the muscles in your hand, fingers, and forearm.
– Stretching exercises to improve the flexibility of the wrist, hand, and fingers
– Education regarding changing wrist positions, proper neck and upper back posture, safe use of sharp utensils, and tools.
– Use of heat/cold treatments to relieve pain
– Use of a night splint to reduce discomfort
– Increasing the size of tool and utensil handles by adding extra material for a more comfortable grip
– Anti-vibration gloves or anti-vibration wraps around tool handles, if vibration is a factor at your workplace
– A work site visit to assess your work area (if needed).
Your PT will also consider your home and leisure activities, and provide you with recommendations so that you do not aggravate the condition.
Can this condition be prevented?
There are no proven strategies to prevent CTS, but there are ways to minimize stress to your hands and wrists.
The following strategies are effective ways to minimize stress to your hands and wrists:
– Take frequent breaks. When doing repeated activities, give your hands a break by performing stretching exercises.
– Reduce force. Relax your grip to avoid muscle fatigue and strain.
– Neutral wrist position. Avoid bending your wrists by keeping them in a straight or “neutral” position.
– Improve your posture. Make sure your posture is appropriate to the task you are performing. Believe it or not, proper alignment of your trunk, neck, and shoulders can prevent excessive strain and improper positioning of the wrists and hands.
– Keep your hands warm. You are more likely to develop hand pain and stiffness if you work in a cold environment, so if you can’t control the temperature, be sure to wear gloves to keep your hands and wrists warm as much as possible.
– Work area adjustment. If possible have a PT examine your work area to make sure it fits your height, posture, and the tasks required.
And that concludes my two-part series about carpal tunnel syndrome. I encourage you to get in touch with a PT if any of these things have set off alarms in your head. Early detection and treatment is the best possibly way for you to resume normal activities and reduce pain.
As always I also encourage you to give us a call if you are looking for a physical therapist, we would be happy to assist you in any way that we can.