Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): A Simple Guide

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that affects many people worldwide, causing hand numbness, pain, and discomfort. This blog post aims to provide a basic overview of CTS, its risk factors, affected tissues, and common symptoms. We’ll also discuss the general physiotherapy treatment approach for managing this condition.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where the median nerve, a major nerve in your wrist, gets compressed under a structure called the flexor retinaculum. This compression can cause a tingling sensation or pain in your thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of your ring finger.

Why Does It Happen?

Many cases of CTS are idiopathic, meaning they occur without a known cause. However, the most common cause remains repetitive, overuse stresses resulting in compression of the median nerve. Other factors that can compress the median nerve include mechanical trauma, conditions like arthritis, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, and space-occupying lesions like ganglions and lipomas.

What Does It Do To Your Hand?

When the median nerve in your wrist gets compressed, it can disrupt the blood supply to the nerve. This can damage the protective covering of the nerve, known as myelin, which can affect how the nerve sends signals. If it’s not treated, the nerve can get more damaged and scar tissue can form around the nerve, making the condition worse.

What Are The Symptoms?

People with CTS often experience both sensation and movement symptoms. Sensation symptoms can include a burning feeling, tingling, pins and needles, and numbness in the fingers. Movement symptoms can include a weak grip and loss of motor control. If CTS is not treated, it can lead to muscle weakness and wasting in the hand. These symptoms usually get worse at night and after moving the wrist.

How Is It Treated?

There are two main ways to treat CTS: conservative treatments and surgery. Non-surgical treatments include things like splinting, NSAIDs, ergonomics, yoga, diuretics, corticosteroids, exercises, acupuncture, massage, and manual therapy. Surgical treatment involves cutting the transverse carpal ligament via an endoscopic method or open release through skin and overlying tissue.

What Exercises Can Help?

Exercises for CTS are designed to prevent tissues from sticking together and to stretch the sheath that surrounds the tendons in the wrist, known as the tenosynovium. These include moving the tendons and nerves, moving the wrist and hand, and stretching and strengthening the wrist muscles.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a complex condition that can cause significant hand pain and numbness. But with the right approach, it can be effectively managed. At Connect Physiotherapy & Exercise in Edmonton, our friendly team offers specialized Hand Therapy to help patients regain their strength and functionality. Remember, reaching out early is key to preventing further complications and ensuring a better quality of life.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of CTS, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Connect Physiotherapy & Exercise. Our dedicated team in Edmonton is ready to provide you with Hand Therapy solutions tailored to your needs!

Remember, while knowledge is power, self-diagnosis and treatment can be risky. While this blog provides useful information, it’s essential to see a trained professional for proper diagnosis and management. Every person is unique, and so is their recovery journey. At Connect Physiotherapy & Exercise, we’re all about personalized care. Let us help you navigate your path to recovery.


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Uchiyama, S., Itsubo, T., Nakamura, K., Kato, H., Yasutomi, T., & Momose, T. (2010). Current concepts of carpal tunnel syndrome: Pathophysiology, treatment and evaluation.15, 1-13.

Mansuripur, P. K., Deren, M. E., & Kamal, R. (2013). Nerve compression syndromes of the upper extremity: Diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. Rhode Island Medical Journal, 96(5), 37- 39.

Huber, L. & Richman, S. (2012). Carpal tunnel syndrome: Conservative management. Rehabilitation Reference Center, CINAHL Rehabilitation Guide, EBSCO Publishing.

Ruben San Martin Headshot
Ruben San Martin

Ruben, MScPT, CSCS, NCCP Level 1 Olympic Weightlifting, is a physiotherapist uniquely blending research expertise in applied anatomy with a certified strength and conditioning coach background. Specialized in manual therapy, back disorders, exercise, and osteoarthritis, he is also a certified Olympic weightlifting coach. Prioritizing exercise therapy and hands-on manual techniques, Ruben emphasizes client education for active engagement and informed recovery. His writing aims to help clients return to an active lifestyle, optimize performance, and prevent injuries.