Family in field

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Hundred of thousands of people suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). This is a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) which means it doesn't have a particular accident. It does develop slowly and gets worse. Whether it's a construction person repeatedly using a screwdriver (the classic textbook cause), a computer operator or a craftsperson doing detail work, it all has the same problem - excessive use of muscles.

True CTS is an irritation to the ligament which crosses the inside of the wrist. Simple, yet effective, orthopedic test can determine if this is true CTS. Put your hands palm to palm and press them together so your wrists are at 90 angles. Now do the same thing with the backs of the hands. If it hurts you MAY have CTS. Now press deeply into the muscles in the forearm, elbow and top of the shoulder area. If there are sharp pains it MAY NOT be CTS. In these cases you may have a neuropathy or nerve problem instead with symptoms in the wrist and forearm area.

It's important to know for sure because true CTS is usually best treated with medications, some physical therapies and often surgery. But if it's not than all that will do little or nothing to fix the pain. Unfortunately, you'll still have the pain even after the surgery.

If it's not true CTS than specialized physical therapies and deep muscle work are most effective. One nice thing is that people with non-true CTS can experience immediate improvement with just one proper application of the right therapies.

CarpelTunnelThe carpal tunnel ligament (purple band across the wrist) helps hold the bones of the forearm and wrist together. It also holds the tendons of the finger muscles in place. The muscles of the fingers are actually in the forearm. When you grip something or type or use a computer mouse the muscles you are using are actually in the forearm not in the wrist or hand. Muscles shown in the hand are actually for spreading the fingers wide or closing them together except for the thumb muscles which do have a gripping action.

Overuse of these muscles can lead to pain in the hand, wrist and forearm but most noticeably where things get tight, under the carpal tunnel ligament, since the tight muscles are due to the TPs. Testing and therapy is simple. Press on the muscles in the blue arrow areas with your other hand thumb, the knuckle of a finger, a pencil erasure or something else to apply pressure.

(Return to top)