Does Physical Therapy Work for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

December 26, 2022 0 Comment

Physical Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Are you suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome? You might be wondering if physical therapy could help. The answer is yes! Evidence indicates that physical therapy can be just as effective as surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, and it also offers some added benefits. In this blog post, we will discuss the evidence behind physical therapy, as well as what you can expect from treatment. 

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? 

carpal tunnel syndrome and treatments

Before we dive into the evidence behind physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome, let’s take a moment to review what this condition is. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that affects the hand and wrist, causing pain, numbness, and weakness in these areas. It can be caused by an injury or repetitive use of the hand and wrist over time. According to research, nearly 50% of all work-related injuries are linked to carpal tunnel syndrome. People with this injury are also more likely to miss work due to its severity. 

Benefits of Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy has been shown to effectively treat carpal tunnel syndrome with fewer risks than surgery. It can reduce pain and increase strength in the hand and wrist while avoiding potential side effects associated with surgery such as scarring or infection. Additionally, physical therapy has been found to be cost-effective when compared to surgery because it generally requires fewer visits and shorter recovery times than an operation would entail. Patients who undergo physical therapy may also return to work sooner than those who opt for surgery. More than a third of patients who got surgery do not return within 8 weeks after a surgical procedure. Most people recover within 3 months when treated with physical therapy instead of surgery.

What Can I Expect From Physical Therapy? 

When undergoing physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome, your therapist will design a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals. This plan may include manual therapies such as joint mobilization or soft tissue massage techniques that help relieve tightness around the affected area; exercise programs designed to improve flexibility, strength, and coordination; ultrasound treatments that reduce swelling; electrical stimulation techniques that reduce pain; heat/cold applications for comfort; postural re-education strategies; ergonomic education classes; activity modifications that limit painful activities; self-care instruction regarding posture and stretching exercises; splinting or bracing protocols; and other modalities depending on your individual case. 

Do Your Research

In an article posted by JOSPT, The researchers studied the cases of 100 women with carpal tunnel syndrome and compared 50 patients who were treated with physical therapy and 50 patients who were treated with surgery. The patients who did not receive surgery were treated with manual therapy techniques that focused on the neck and median nerve for 30 minutes, once a week, with stretching exercises at home. After 1 month, the patients in the physical therapy group had better hand function during daily activities and better grip strength (also known as pinch strength between the thumb and index finger) than the patients who had surgery. At 3, 6, and 12 months after treatment, patients in both the physical therapy and surgery groups showed similar improvements in function and grip strength. Pain also decreased for patients in both groups. The researchers concluded that physical therapy and surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome yield similar benefits.

if you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, there is hope! Physical therapy offers strong evidence-based treatment options that can help you recover without the risks associated with surgery such as scarring or infection. With its cost-effectiveness and shorter recovery time compared to surgery (generally 3 months versus 8 weeks), physical therapy is a viable option for those suffering from this condition who want relief without going under the knife. Talk to us about starting physical therapy today!

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