When Your Hands Demand Relief from an Osteopath’s Touch
This month we’re focussing on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and what the osteopaths at Altona Meadows Osteopathy can do to help. We hope it’s of interest to you. But if you need help with any pain or injury, please call us on (03) 8360 8363 or visit us at our website.
So, you’re experiencing tingling, numbness, or pain in your hands and wrists. You might be afflicted with that bothersome condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Whether you spend long hours typing away at a keyboard, using power tools, or engaging in repetitive hand movements, CTS can seriously impact your daily life. But fear not! We’ve got the information you need to understand and alleviate your carpal tunnel woes.
Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Imagine your wrist as a busy highway, bustling with nerves, tendons, and blood vessels, all passing through a narrow tunnel. This (carpal) tunnel is formed by bones, ligaments, and connective tissue. Within this confined space, the median nerve, responsible for providing sensation and controlling certain muscles in your hand, can become compressed or irritated leading to carpal tunnel syndrome. Now, let’s unravel the science behind the scenes. Brace yourself for some jargon.
Here are the key players:
Ligament and Tendon Tales:
Introducing the transverse carpal ligament—the bodyguard of the carpal tunnel. In folks with CTS, this ligament may decide to thicken or lose its stretchiness, becoming a bit of a buzzkill. This narrowing of the tunnel puts pressure on the median nerve, leading to those pesky symptoms.
Nerve Slippin’ and Slidin‘:
In a perfectly functioning wrist, the median nerve glides effortlessly within the carpal tunnel. But in CTS, the nerve can get a little stuck due to changes in the surrounding tissues. Think of it like a stuck zipper —annoying, right? This restricted nerve movement only adds fuel to the CTS fire.
Ah, inflammation—the not-so-welcome guest at the CTS party. When things get swollen in an already narrow tunnel, the space inside the tunnel gets even tighter. And you guessed it—more pressure on the median nerve means more discomfort for you.
Why do I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Here are a few of the usual suspects.
- Repetitive Hand Movements: Engaging in repetitive tasks that involve forceful or prolonged hand movements, such as typing, assembly line work, or playing musical instruments, can increase the risk of developing CTS.
- Wrist Alignment: Certain anatomical factors, such as a naturally smaller carpal tunnel or an altered wrist alignment due to injury or arthritis, can make the median nerve more susceptible to compression.
- Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during pregnancy or menopause, can cause swelling and fluid retention, which may contribute to the development of CTS.
Medical Conditions: Certain underlying medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, or obesity can increase the likelihood of experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome.
The osteopaths at Altona Meadows Osteopathy will help you get to the bottom of it.
Osteopathy and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
So now that we understand the condition and its causes a bit better, let’s talk about how we can help you.
Manual Therapy Techniques:
Osteopaths employ a variety of manual therapy techniques to address the underlying causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. They may use gentle manipulations, joint mobilisations, or soft tissue techniques to reduce restrictions in the wrist, hand, forearm, and surrounding areas. By restoring proper alignment and enhancing blood flow, these techniques aim to alleviate pressure on the median nerve and reduce inflammation.
In addition to hands-on treatments, your osteopath may prescribe specific exercises to strengthen the muscles in your hands, wrists, and forearms, promoting stability and support for the carpal tunnel. Additionally, stretching exercises may be prescribed to improve flexibility and alleviate tension in the surrounding structures. Both the stretches and the strengthening exercises will enhance circulation to the area, which brings its own healing. Your osteopath will guide you through proper technique and advise on the frequency and duration of the exercises.
Ergonomic and Lifestyle Advice:
To address the root causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, the osteopaths here at the clinic will also provide valuable guidance on ergonomic modifications and lifestyle adjustments. They may recommend optimising your work or home environment by using ergonomic keyboards, wrist supports, or adjusting the height of your chair and desk. They might recommend modifications to the tools you use. These adjustments will help prevent future flare-ups, so we hope you make them permanent even after symptoms subside.
Your hands are incredible instruments, capable of so much. So, don’t let carpal tunnel syndrome hold you back. Call us on (03) 8360 8363 to make an appointment with one of the osteopaths at Altona Meadows Osteopathy today for carpal tunnel syndrome or any other aches or injuries. We’ll work with you to get you feeling and moving better.
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References: Physiopedia (ND) Clinical Biomechanics of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. [Online] Available at https://www.physio-pedia.com/Clinical_Biomechanics_of_Carpal_Tunnel_Syndrome. Accessed of 29/06/2023.