Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of those undesirable conditions that gets worse the longer it goes untreated, and is harder to treat when it progresses. If you identify the symptoms right away and get treatment, you probably won’t need surgery later on. For most patients who are seeking carpal tunnel treatment, the primary care physician’s office is the first stop. But don’t rely on medications alone, which won’t fix the underlying problem. Ask your doctor for a physical therapy referral, which can help you establish a foundation for lifelong wrist and hand health.
How Physical Therapists Evaluate Patients
Even if you’ve already been diagnosed with this condition, your physical therapist may ask you to do some simple tests to assess the extent of your impairment. These assessments can include:
- Grip strength checks
- Sensory tests
- Wrist flexion test
- Tinel’s Sign exam
For the wrist flexion test, you’ll be asked to place the backs of your hands together, with your fingers pointing down. People with carpal tunnel syndrome tend to develop numbness or tingling in the fingers within one minute. Tinel’s Sign is the tapping of the median nerve at the wrist to check for tingling in the thumb, index, or middle fingers.
How Physical Therapy Can Help You
Physical therapists can use a variety of treatment modalities to relieve your symptoms and ease the pressure on the median nerve. He or she may counsel you regarding lifestyle changes, such as the following:
- Taking breaks to stretch during work
- Using tools, instruments, and utensils properly
- Adjusting upper back and neck posture
- Using neutral positions of the wrist
You’ll learn how to use a night splint, and apply heat and cold packs to ease your symptoms. Physical therapy also involves stretches and exercises intended increase flexibility, range of motion, and grip strength.
The Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Centers is your one-stop shop for orthopedic and sports medicine services. Our physical therapists in The Woodlands might help you avoid carpal tunnel surgery, and we also offer pain management care. New and current patients can reach us at (281) 362-0006.