There are few conditions as commonplace today as carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel is often caused by overuse and repetitive motion with the fingers or hands.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the fingers, wrist, hand and forearm. Symptoms include tingling, numbness and pain. A range of surgical and nonsurgical treatments is available.
In this post, we’re going to discuss occupational therapy for carpal tunnel. Therapy can be used to try and avoid surgery. But most often it is used for recovery after carpal tunnel surgery.
The goal of occupational therapy
Occupational therapy is aimed at helping people complete daily activities. For most of us, our hands are essential to our jobs and our everyday activities.
Occupational therapy is extremely useful for getting back to everyday life after surgery.
This is different from physical therapy, which focuses on improving mobility. If you’ve had carpal tunnel surgery, there’s a good chance you’ll go through both PT and OT.
Pre-surgery occupational therapy for carpal tunnel
Occupational therapy treatment can be used to treat early-stage CTS, as well.
A medical study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found strong evidence that occupational therapy treatment could relieve pain in early stages of CTS.
These treatments include:
- Splinting, which often relieves all symptoms for limited periods
- Exercises, which can strengthen the fingers, wrist, hand and forearm
- Massage, which can alleviate pain and swelling
In some cases, these treatment methods can avoid the need for surgery if CTS is caught in time. But occupational therapy for carpal tunnel is more widely used after surgery.
Occupational therapy after carpal tunnel surgery
Occupational therapy treatment post-surgery resembles pre-surgery options, but there are key differences.
For example, soon after surgery an occupational therapist will provide soft tissue massage. This is important to help reduce swelling and to help move fluids out of the affected area.
Other occupational therapy methods may be used after carpal tunnel surgery. These include:
- Mild Exercises: These help strengthen the hand, fingers, wrist and forearm. They also combat swelling without damaging the incision area/stitches.
- Flexing and stretching: Finger and hand stretches help improve flexibility and combat inflammation. They are generally mild initially to avoid irritating the incision.
- Strength training: As the incision heals, hand exercises will become more robust. They’ll strengthen the muscles in the hand, fingers, wrist and forearm.
- Joint stabilization: This may be done by squeezing and stretching therapeutic putty.
- Improving range of motion: Stretches, flexing and exercises also improve your range of motion after surgery. This enables you to slowly return to daily activity.
- Education: An occupational therapist teach you will help prevent symptoms from returning. These will aid you in developing healthy posture and mobility habits.
Ultimately, occupational therapy treatment is vital for patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. It can help to minimize and even eliminate symptoms with an early CTS diagnosis.
Occupational therapy enables you to return to regular activities after carpal tunnel surgery. It helps you to live life to the fullest, without pain.
Are you suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome?
Motus Rehabilitation can help. We provide occupational therapy in metro Detroit. We have certified hand therapists on staff. And we work closely with some of Detroit’s finest hand surgeons.
Contact us today to get reduce your pain from carpal tunnel syndrome.