Carpal Tunnel Relief from Occupational Therapy and Other Treatments

If you’ve been suffering from numbness, pain, weakness, or tingling in your hand or forearm, your hand specialist may diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that affects up to ten million Americans.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve that runs from the forearm through the wrist to the hand by the narrowing of the carpal tunnel it passes through. Left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome will worsen over time and can lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage and dysfunction of the hand. It can also interfere with daily activities and sleep. Occupational therapy and other treatments may be prescribed if you are diagnosed with it. But what can you expect from carpal tunnel treatment? The hand experts at Town Center Orthopaedics explain what you need to know.

Getting Carpal Tunnel Relief from Occupational Therapy and Other Treatments

After your diagnosis, your hand doctor will probably pursue non-surgical treatments first if your symptoms are mild or if the condition is still in an early stage.

Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Decreasing repetitive motions that cause wrist flexing or bending
  • Changing or modifying activities causing the discomfort, which may include making changes to workstations
  • Contrast bathing where you alternate dipping your hand and wrist in warm and cold water during a session, with the temperature changes helping to relieve discomfort by increasing circulation
  • Wearing a brace or splint to keep your wrist in a straight or neutral position to remove pressure from the median nerve
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen to relieve pain and inflammation
  • Receiving a steroid injection to help reduce pain

Your hand specialist may also recommend physical and occupational therapy exercises to help relieve pressure on the medium nerve, such as:

  • Median nerve glides to help the nerve move more freely
  • Tendon glides that improve the flow of the tendon through the carpal tunnel
  • Wrist extension carpal tunnel stretches to stretch the inner muscles of the forearm
  • Wrist flexion stretches to stretch the outer muscles of the forearm

These exercises are usually performed for four to six weeks. Unfortunately, there are times when these non-surgical treatments aren’t enough to stop the damage and progression or give relief from carpal tunnel symptoms. In those instances, surgery and additional physical and occupational therapy are recommended.

What To Expect From Carpal Tunnel Surgery and Post-Surgical Therapy

Carpal tunnel release surgery opens the carpal tunnel to relieve pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is the space formed by the wrist bones and transverse carpal ligament which allows nerves to pass from the forearm to the fingers. The surgeon cuts through the ligament to eliminate pressure on the median nerve.

There are two types of carpal tunnel surgery:

  • Open carpal tunnel release, where the surgeon cuts open the wrist to perform the surgery
  • Endoscopic carpal tunnel release, which is less invasive — the surgeon inserts a thin tube with a camera through one small incision while inserting tools into another small incision to make the cut.

Both surgeries are usually performed on an outpatient basis so that you can return home afterward.

After surgery, recovery takes from a few days to a few months. You will probably wear a heavy bandage or a splint for one to two weeks. Then, if needed, you may receive occupational and physical therapy two to four weeks after surgery to ensure proper healing and strengthening of the tissues of the hand and wrist.

Therapy includes many of the exercises for carpal tunnel mentioned earlier, along with:

  • Strengthening exercises for the hand, fingers, wrist, and forearm
  • Joint stabilization exercises
  • Exercises to improve range of motion
  • Scar healing and desensitization techniques, including scar tissue massage

Occupational therapy also provides education on ways to avoid re-injury, such as developing good posture and mobility habits and making modifications to your workstation.

Treatment Is Key To Stop Further Carpal Tunnel Damage and Discomfort

If you’re experiencing tingling, pain, or numbness in your hands or wrist, please don’t wait to see one of our hand specialists at Town Center Orthopaedics. The symptoms won’t go away on their own, and the damage will continue to progress. Call (517) 307- 4985 or request an appointment online so that we can discuss your treatment plan and get you back to functioning normally and living life pain-free.

We Are Here To Help

Set up a visit at one of our locations today.

Schedule Appointment
Join our Mailing List

TCO provides patients with orthopedic problems the trusted resources and patient-centered advice they need to “Feel Better. Move Better. Be Better.”