by Matt Glass, Occupational Therapist, Hand Clinic

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an injury of the wrist that causes tingling, numbness, and pain in the thumb and fingers. It can restrict movement and limit your ability to perform normal daily activities.


In anatomical terms, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by impingement of the median nerve that runs under the transverse carpal ligament. Inflammation and/or swelling within muscle tendons in the wrist cause the median nerve to be compressed, resulting in pain, numbness and tingling.

Activities that may cause carpal tunnel syndrome include repetitive stress, trauma, fractures, overuse, and poor workstation ergonomics. In addition, certain health conditions such as Type II Diabetes, obesity, and pregnancy may contribute to the onset of carpal tunnel pain.


Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

Numbness and tingling in the thumb, index and middle finger

Numbness at nighttime, while sleeping

Daily pain in hand and/or wrist

Increasing hand weakness

Decreased ability to do daily tasks, such as getting dressed, drinking coffee, brushing hair, driving, gaming, etc.


The objective of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is to decrease pressure on the wrist area and to reduce the patient’s pain and inflammation.

Treatment options may include:

Patient homework – stretching, activity modification, rest, and home exercises

Manual therapy – soft tissue massage, myofascial release

Circulation improvement – laser therapy and therapeutic ultrasound

Wrist immobilization – splinting

Medications – ibuprofen or cortisone injection

Invasive intervention – surgery

Conservative, non-invasive treatments work with your body’s natural healing abilities, are less expensive, and have fewer complications and side effects compared to surgery.

If you have recurring symptoms or are concerned that you might have carpal tunnel syndrome, contact our Hand Clinic at 425-892-2243 or get started by filling out our Intake Forms online. Your condition will be evaluated by a professional hand therapist who can advise the best course of treatment to get you back to work, play, and doing the activities you love.

Image credit: staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436.

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