Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Elbow, Wrist & Hand Pain Relief Physical therapy Atwater & Merced, CA

The United States Bureau of Labor has calculated that nearly 16 percent of jobs incorporate office and administrative work.  That means that many of us are spending long hours sitting at our desks having to fill out forms, type, and overall use our hands a lot more. For those struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome, it can be exhausting and at times intolerable.

Below you will learn about carpal tunnel syndrome and what may cause symptoms associated with it. If you feel like you are struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome or know someone who is, we are located in Atwater and Merced, CA. Feel free to give Bryant Orthopedics & Sports PT a call today to schedule an appointment!

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder of the hand. It is caused by compression of the median nerve. The median nerve gets squeezed inside a narrow passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. This nerve provides feeling to the thumb, index and middle fingers, and half the ring finger.


Carpal tunnel syndrome is created by pressure on the median nerve. This pressure is caused by the carpal tunnel becoming narrower. The narrowing can be caused by many factors, including:

  • Swelling of tissue in the carpal tunnel due to injury or fluid changes in your body
  • Hereditary narrow carpal tunnel
  • Tumors (rare)

a00005f02 compression test compressor Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Risk Factors

Women and older adults are at greater risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Factors that may increase your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Activities with repetitive hand motions:
    • Certain sports
    • Sewing
    • Playing musical instruments
    • Typing
    • Assembly tasks
  • Water retention from:
    • Heart failure
    • Kidney problems
  • Wrist injury:
    • Burns
    • Broken bones
    • Compression or crush injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Raynaud disease and phenomenon, which impairs blood flow in the hands
  • Hormone-related conditions, which may include:
    • Pregnancy
    • Breastfeeding
    • Menopause
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Excess growth hormone
  • Medications, which may include:
    • Birth control pills
    • Cortisone pills or shots
    • Some high blood pressure medications


Carpal tunnel syndrome causes symptoms in one or both hands or wrists. Symptoms may include:

  • Tingling, burning, or numbness, especially in your thumb and index or middle fingers
  • Pain or numbness that worsens with:
    • Wrist, hand, or finger movement
    • Sleep—symptoms may wake you
  • Hand stiffness or cramping that gets better after:
    • Shaking your hand
    • Waking up in the morning
  • Weakness or clumsiness of your hand:
    • Loss of grip strength
    • Difficulty making a fist
    • Frequently dropping things
  • Pain that moves up your arm


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam of your arms, wrists, and hands will be done. The exam will include tests of strength, sensation, and signs of nerve irritation or damage.

Other tests may include:

  • Electrodiagnostic exam —Measures and records the speed of electrical conduction in your median nerve to see if the nerve impulse in the hand is delayed
  • MRI scan —A test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside your body, in this case, the neck
  • X-ray —A test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside your body, especially bones
  • Ultrasound—A test that uses sound waves to measure the width of your median nerve (may be used as a screening test or to guide injections)


It is important to correct whatever is causing carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes making simple changes in the workplace or home may help relieve symptoms.

Treatment may also include:

Rest, Ice, Elevation, and Exercises

  • Rest your wrist by keeping it straight and decreasing activities that worsen the pain.
  • Gently apply ice packs to the area.
  • Elevate the hand above your heart to reduce swelling.
  • Do exercises as directed by a healthcare provider.


You may reduce your chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome by:

  • Minimizing repetitive hand movements when possible.
  • Alternating between activities or tasks to reduce the strain on your body.
  • Keeping your wrists straight when you are using them. Let your arms and shoulders share the stress.
  • Using your whole hand or both hands to pick up an item.
  • Avoiding holding an object the same way for a long time.
  • Following ergonomic practices in an office. Adjust your desk, chair, and keyboard so you are in the best possible position:
    • Back straight
    • Feet flat on the floor or resting on a footrest
    • Knees level with or slightly lower than your hips
    • Shoulders in a neutral position, not forward or back
    • Elbows bent at a 90-degree angle
    • Forearms parallel to the floor and wrists straight
  • Take breaks at least every hour to:
    • Rest or shake your hands
    • Massage your palms and backs of your hands
  • Get regular aerobic exercises such as walking or swimming.
  • Cut down on caffeine and smoking. These activities may reduce blood flow to your hands.

If you would like to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome or know someone that needs help, contact us today! Our highly trained physical therapists can evaluate and assist all your needs.



Aroori, S., & Spence, R. A. (2008). Carpal tunnel syndrome. The Ulster medical journal77(1), 6–17.

Eversmann WW., Jr . Entrapment and compression neuropathies. In: Green DP, editor. Operative hand surgery vol 2. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 1993. pp. 1341–85. []

Blanc PD, Faucett J, Kennedy JJ, Cisternas M, Yelin E. Self-reported carpal tunnel syndrome: predictors of work disability from the National Health Interview Survey Occupational Health Supplement. Am J Ind Med. 1996;30(3):362–8.[PubMed[]


Magui Profile Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Created by: Margarita Perez, Director of Public Health Program Developer

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