Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition affecting 3 million Americans each year. This makes it very common. Though you should never self-diagnose yourself, carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS for short, presents itself with symptoms as simple as pain in the hand or wrist and numbness in the hand.
Do you spend a lot of time typing? There are other various activities that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, but for the vast majority of sufferers, CTS is caused by your hands being in an extended (knuckles toward the top of your wrist) position for prolonged periods of time. People suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome may experience:
Pain: occurring mainly at night in the fingers, forearms, hands, muscles, thumbs, or wrists.
Muscular: muscle weakness, clumsiness, loss of muscle, or muscle spasms
Sensory: pins and needles or uncomfortable tingling and burning
Hand: numbness, cramping, or tingling
This may all sound like bad news, but the good news is this: carpal tunnel syndrome is treatable. Additional good news is that CTS is not a chronic condition. It is not something that has to affect you forever, much like tendonitis, if treated properly, it will go away.
So what should you do if you think you have carpal tunnel syndrome?
First, consult your doctor or come see a Licensed Physical Therapist, like those at The Smith Clinic for Physical Therapy, for proper diagnosing.
Second, rest and ice should be advised with steroid injections and surgery a possibility based on the severity.
In recent years, many doctors have rushed CTS sufferers to surgery. Even though this is considered a “micro” surgery to fix the nerve issue, physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome is a much safer and equally effective treatment for CTS.
A recent study from Spain indicates that physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome is more effective initially than surgery and they have the same baseline results in 6 to 12 months. This study took over 100 participants, and nearly half had surgery and nearly half had physical therapy only.
The study found that when it came to self-reported current level of pain and worst pain over the preceding week, the physical therapy participants reported higher decreases on the 11-point pain scale at 1 month (an average 2-point difference from the surgery group) and at 3 months (an average 1.3-point difference). By 6 months, those differences had lessened and were practically nonexistent after 1 year (apta.org)
“It seems conservative management may be considered as a front-line treatment in mild to moderate, and sometimes severe, cases of CTS before subsequently considering surgery,” authors write (apta.org).
So if you find yourself or a loved one or co-worker suffering from the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome, feel free to contact your doctor, but don’t feel you have to rush to surgery. A more conservative approach may be more worth your time and pain level!
The Smith Clinic is here for your physical therapy needs, whether it be physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome or any of the various muscle or joint pain issues that may be affecting you.