The carpal tunnel is a small space in the wrist where nerves and tendons pass through. Because the tunnel’s contents is tightly packed in, compression within the tunnel can cause irritation. If the median nerve is irritated, it can cause symptoms into the hand.
What Happens in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The median nerve runs through the tunnel and into the palm of the hand. Its exact distribution varies slightly from person to person, but typically it supplies the thumb to ring finger, and some of the palm itself. Like other irritated nerves, it can cause pins and needles, numbness, and weakness as well as pain.
There are other nerves in the hand that can cause the same symptoms in a similar area. Some of these nerves can be irritated further up the arm or even in the neck, and cause similar symptoms to compression in the wrist. Your osteopath will work to diagnose the cause of your pain. Treatment will be tailored to your case- even if your symptoms do not come from the wrist, we may still be able to help.
We’ve mentioned before that increased fluid retention in pregnancy can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A hormone that begins production in early pregnancy affects the way blood vessels behave, encouraging water retention in some people. This affects tissues all over the body. When fluid is retained around the wrist, it can add pressure to the carpal tunnel, causing irritation of the structures inside.
Whereas fluid retention causes irritation to the area from within the tunnel, desk work can irritate from the outside. If you rest your wrists on the desk when you type, you might be applying pressure to the tunnel. The perfect desk set up will vary between individuals, but keeping your wrists neutral and off the desk is generally a good idea. If you have arm rests, try to have them at the same height as your table. This means you won’t be able to tuck the chair under, but it takes the strain out of your wrists. Avoid using padded mouse mats or rests for the keyboard, as they also apply pressure to the area. You will likely find you don’t need them if your arms are in a good position.
Overuse of the wrist flexor muscles can also cause irritation. The tendons of these muscles pass through the tunnel. Another problem that can develop after overuse of these muscles is tennis elbow, and it is possible to have both at the same time.
Osteopathy and Carpal Tunnel
Your osteopath will look at your case to determine the cause of your carpal tunnel syndrome. We can help with circulatory issues, so for cases caused by fluid retention, we may be able to help clear the excess. You may need exercises to help maintain the change between appointments. Also, if your retention is due to your medication, it may be worth having a medication review with your GP to resolve the problem at source.
If the cause of your symptoms is work related, we can advise changes for you to make that take pressure off your wrist. For pain as a result of tight muscles, we can work directly on the muscles to reduce pressure and irritation.
Address your pain in Petersfield or Easebourne. Book an appointment here.