Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that affects around 3% of the population. it occurs when some places pressure on the median nerve, causing numbness, tingling, and possible weakness in the hand and fingers.
The cause is often long durations typing at a computer or doing another similar repetitive movement. This can be frustrating for the client, especially if their job consists of long hours typing reports or data into their computer. They may have to take time off work to recuperate. Thus, the pressure is on to find a viable treatment protocol.
As a manual therapist, what can you do to help your client with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Choose manual therapy techniques that focus on the medial nerve and neck tension release. Ideally, the goals of treatment should focus on reducing swelling, maximizing tendon and nerve conduction through the carpal tunnel, and maintaining or improving wrist range of motion and strength.
Manual therapy techniques may include mobilization of the median nerve or flossing of the median nerve and massage techniques to improve blood flow and reduce tension in surrounding muscles and structures. The median nerve runs from the neck and through the carpal tunnel. Various studies have shown therapy involving gentle massaging and movement of the neck improves median nerve function. Further, passive movement techniques ensure the range of motion is maintained and can help reduce swelling via blood movement.
In conjunction with manual therapy techniques, prescribe home exercises to your client. Exercises can include wrist and forearm strengthening and stretching (Check out iBody Academy’s home exercise program application to make prescribing exercises easy and efficient).
If the cause is work-related, an ergonomic assessment may be valuable to your client to prevent injury recurrence. Perhaps their desk is too high, or their chair is too low, placing stress on their wrist and other joints. Adjustments of their workspace may prevent the injury from reoccurring and create a more efficient space for your client to work.
Braces or splints can help immobilize the joint to avoid making the condition worse. However, it is important that you communicate to your client that the brace should not replace a proper ergonomic setup in the workplace. Recommend to your client to wear the brace when sleeping and only for the short-term. Long-term immobilization can lead to further issues such as increased muscle weakness and decreased range of motion.
Find out more about mobilization and massage therapy techniques through iBody Academy’s online accredited courses. Serve your clients better and get them back to the activities they love faster!