The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist, about an inch wide. The floor and sides of the tunnel are formed by small wrist bones called carpal bones. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. The condition occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand — the median nerve — is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist via the carpal tunnel.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Symptoms which affect mainly the thumb, index finger, and middle finger

  • Burning discomfort

  • Pins and needles (often at night)

  • Numbness

  • Pain up the arm to the neck

  • Weakness of grip

  • Clumsiness

  • Easing of symptoms by shaking hands

What Causes It?

  • The median nerve can get compressed in the carpal tunnel.

  • In the carpal tunnel the median nerve passes between the tendons of flexor muscles of the wrist.If the muscles are tight or there is swelling, compression can occur.

  • More common in diabetics and pregnant females

How to Self Manage

  • R.I.C.E protocol

  • Anti–inflammatory medication to reduce the swelling

  • Use of a wrist splint to provide protection and enforce rest


  • Corticosteroid injection if conservative management is unsuccessful.

  • Surgery may also be indicated following an unsuccessful cortisone injection.

How Physio Helps

  • Assessment to establish if symptoms are positive with Tinel’s test

  • Soft tissue massage to release tight muscles, and to shift swelling

  • Electrical therapies to reduce swelling

  • Nerve mobilisation to reduced tension of the median nerve

  • Provision of stretches and home exercises for rehabilitation

  • Provision of splint if required

  • Review of workplace/sporting ergonomics

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Sammy Margo Physiotherapy

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Email: physiophysio@hotmail.com

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Disclaimer: Information made available by AskPhysio (Sammy Margo Physiotherapy) is provided for guidance only and should not be considered as medical recommendations or advice.  AskPhysio is not responsible for errors or omissions in the information. Please consider what the best options for your healthcare are, based on the urgency of your condition and nature of your condition. Please consult a GP or Healthcare Specialist to discuss any specific concerns that exist prior to using the information provided.