Carpal tunnel; why is it such a big issue? For anyone with numbness and tingling in your hands, wrist pain, sitting at a desk - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is what we should be talking about more.

Carpel tunnel syndrome with its complaints can affect people from a wide variety of occupations, lifestyles and health states and can be a very frustrating and disruptive complaint. In our experience many people have heard about carpal tunnel but don’t fully understand the area, the syndrome and it’s symptoms.

What is the carpel tunnel?

Your carpal tunnel is a small space on the palm side of your wrist.  A nerve – the median nerve as well as 9 tendons which control the movement of your fingers run through this space.

This tunnel is formed by the 8 carpal or wrist bones as the floor and walls and the roof is made from a connective band of tissue called Flexor retinaculum.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

This space is already pretty cosy and small and when something such as inflammation makes this space even smaller it can cause pressure on your nerve and may affect the sensation or movements of your hand also known as carpal tunnel syndrome.

What can cause carpal tunnel syndrome? What increases the likelihood of me getting carpal tunnel syndrome?

Swelling or inflammation of the tendons, trauma resulting in fractures as well as certain other conditions can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

It is more commonly found in conditions such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory conditions (Rheumatoid arthritis) or conditions which affect body fluid balance, such as pregnancy or menopause.

Other risk factors include obesity, anatomical differences of wrist structure and being female.

It is commonly found in desk workers or other occupations when there is a lot of repetitive hand or wrist work.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

·        Numbness and tingling in your hand

·        Pins and needles

·        Pain that is worse at night  

·        Hand weakness

·        Wrist swelling

·        Sore wrists

·        Usually a gradual onset

How can an Osteopath help?

When you visit an Osteopath your history of the injury will be investigated and then your wrist, elbow and possibly shoulder will be assessed to confirm if you have carpal tunnel syndrome.

Your Osteopath will use a variety of techniques such as mobilisation of your wrist and stretching of the Flexor rectinaculum to try and increase the space within the tunnel.

They will also look at addressing the cause, whether that is addressing the inflammation of the tendons or looking further up the arm and neck to see if there are any other contributing factors.

Your Osteopath may also suggest the use of supports such as braces or splints, especially at night, more frequent rests from repetitive activities, the use of cold for swelling and modification of your work environment to try and avoid further aggravation of the area.

Who else can help?

Osteopath’s may be able to provide treatment which helps in the management of your symptoms but other health professionals can also offer great options in how you can get back to your activities with as little disruption as possible.

A GP may be able to offer you advice on the use of medications such as non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs or cortisone.  They may also play a key role in exploring if a fracture is the reason for your Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms and an X-ray may be needed.

If these methods do not reduce your symptoms you may be suitable for surgery with the aim to release the pressure within the tunnel usually accomplished by cutting the flexor retinaculum, which will heal and allow a larger carpal tunnel.


If you have questions or have heard people talking about carpel tunnel and you want to find ways to reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome get in contact with us –our website ( or give us call (0416 161 411) or book an appointment online ( and get a assessment and an opportunity to get your questions answered face to face.


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Written by Mariella Berry