Do you suffer from muscle weakness, tingling, numbness, or pain in the hand? If so, you may have a condition involving nerve compression.

The big question is… which nerve is it?

There are 3 nerves that give sensation to the hand:

Compression of the median nerve affects the sensation of the thumb, index finger, middle finger, half of the ring finger and the muscles of the wrist and hand. The typical site of compression of the median nerve is at the wrist.  The wrist acts as a tunnel where many muscles, veins/arteries, and nerves pass through before reaching the hand. When the median nerve is compressed in the tunnel, nerve based symptoms are the result.

It is commonly found in individuals who do a lot of repetitive work with theirs hands. A few examples would be assembly line workers, cashiers, and secretaries. What happens is that the muscles that pass through the carpal tunnel with the nerve overtighten and lead to nerve compression. This explains why some people will have the symptoms with activity but as soon as they rest, the symptoms eventually dissipate.

Another contributing factor is swelling, which would be found in pregnant women and inflammatory related conditions. When swelling is present around the wrist, this decreases the available space in the tunnel resulting in compression of the nerve.

Symptoms of Median Nerve Compression:

  • Tingling/numbness in the hand (thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger)
  • Decreased grip strength
  • Pain in the hand

While people may opt for a carpal tunnel release (surgery), some find it helpful while others do not. A possibility is that there are multiple sites of compression of the median nerve. Because the median nerve originates from the neck, there are many potential sites for compression – the neck, shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Consequently, each area needs to be ruled out or dealt with in order to fully resolve the symptoms.

At Movement Performance Centre, our physiotherapists are trained to help resolve your carpal tunnel symptoms by assessing and treating each potential site of compression to ensure that the nerve is able to function optimally. Depending on the root cause of the median nerve compression, different strategies will be employed to resolve the issue. Possible treatments may include:

  • Stretching and Soft Tissue Release
  • Increasing mobility of the spine
  • Strengthening of the neck, shoulder, elbow, or wrist muscles.
  • Identifying and treating factors affecting but are external to the affected arm

If you have any questions or need treatment, give us a call to see how we can get you moving back to normal life.

Author: Zachary Hum MScPT BAKin