close up of physical therapist examining patients hand and wrist

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain, tingling, numbness, and even weakness in the hand, leading people with these symptoms to seek out physical therapy for relief.

Physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is caused by pressure on the median nerve in your wrist–the nerve that controls movement and feeling in your thumb and first three fingers.

Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include tingling or numbness in the fingers or hand, especially when holding an object or when the wrist is in a bent position. You also may notice the urge to “shake out” the hand to relieve symptoms. Another common symptom is pain that radiates either up the arm or into the palm, making you drop objects.

Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome

Anything that irritates or compresses the median nerve in the carpal tunnel space can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, fluid retention during pregnancy can narrow the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve, as can degenerative changes from osteoarthritis. In addition, daily activities such as repetitive typing, use of power tools, or gripping can also lead to CTS.

female physical therapist showing older woman how to lift arms

How we treat carpal tunnel syndrome

There is a wide range of treatments that can be used for carpal tunnel syndrome, including:

  • Education on avoiding aggravating activities and postural instruction
  • Strengthening exercises for the muscles in the arm, hand, fingers, and postural muscles
  • Stretching exercises to improve flexibility
  • Modalities for pain
  • Night splint to ensure proper wrist position while sleeping
  • Ergonomic assessment/recommendations
  • Manual therapy, including nerve gliding exercises
older woman with white hair using exercise tools during physical therapy appointment

What to expect

Your first physical therapy appointment is about creating a personalized treatment plan based on your health history, diagnosis, and goals. Here’s what you can expect at your first physical therapy appointment:

Your first appointment will last about an hour. Please arrive 15 minutes early.

If applicable, bring your physician referral or prescription, insurance card, paperwork, ID, and co-payment.

At your appointment, we’ll do an initial evaluation and discuss your care plan.

*Services are not available at every location. Visit our Locations page for more details.