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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel. There is pain, tingling, and in severe cases, numbness in the thumb, index middle and ½ of the ring finger. It is typically caused by repetitive tasks involving the hand and wrist. Typing with the wrists resting on hard surfaces can result in this problem.
It is often worse at night or with driving and can lead to loss of grip strength and coordination. As the problem progresses, atrophy (muscle wasting) of the thumb muscles may occur.
Treatment typically consists of splinting the wrist in a neutral position (no bend in the wrist in either direction), anti-inflammatory medication, and most importantly, activity modification such as wearing a padded glove during cycling. Surgical release of the transverse carpal ligament is often performed before muscle wasting occurs. Physical therapy follows to help restore range of motion, strength, and to educate the patient of factors that can lead to a reoccurrence of the problem.
Possible Treatment Goals
- Decrease Risk of Reoccurrence
- Improve Function
- Improve Muscle Strength and Power
- Decrease Nerve Compression
- Increase Oxygen to Tissues
- Improve Range of Motion
- Improve Relaxation
- Self-care of Symptoms
- Improve Safety
- Improve Tolerance for Prolonged Activities
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