Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Trigger finger : when should you consider surgery

If you think you need surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Trigger finger… Try osteopathy first!

Osteopathy is highly successful in treating carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and trigger finger.


What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes entrapped as it passes through the wrist, causing weakness, clumsiness, pain, tingling or numbness in the hand. The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (except the little finger), as well, it innervates some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move. When thickening occurs from irritation and swelling of the tendons, fascia and soft tissues around the wrist, it causes the narrowing of the tunnel where the median nerve passes. Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers.

Cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is often associated with repeated or sustained activity of the fingers or hand. It can also be due to a congenital predisposition, where the tunnel is simply smaller in some people than in others. Other contributing factors include trauma or injury to the wrist that cause swelling (such as a sprain or fracture), rheumatoid arthritis; mechanical problems in the wrist joint; work stress; repeated use of vibrating hand tools.

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The patient evaluation and questioning will help determine how the osteopath will proceed with the treatment, but the following are examples of treatment:

  • Cervical alignment to make sure nerve passage is free.
  • Myofascial release techniques performed on the arm, forearm, wrist and hand.
  • Suggested exercise strengthening and stretching can be helpful for the patient to continue at home.

Results: Every patient may respond differently to treatment, but most have overall more mobility and improved nerve conduction because of reduced pressure on the median nerve. To prevent the carpal tunnel syndrome from occurring it is recommended to take frequent rest breaks at the workplace, perform stretching exercises and use correct posture and wrist position.


What is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is a condition that occurs when you have limited finger movement. When you try to straighten your finger, it will lock or catch before popping out straight. If you have trigger finger, the tendon becomes momentarily stuck at the mouth of the tendon sheath tunnel when you try to straighten your finger. You might feel a pop as the tendon slips through the tight area and your finger will suddenly shoot straight out.

Cause of Trigger Finger

Trigger Finger is often exacerbated after activities that strain the hand and fingers. For example; working on the keyboard all day or rolling the mouse repeatedly. Trigger finger is also more common in people with certain medical problems such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms of trigger finger usually start without any injury, although they may follow a period of heavy hand use. Symptoms may include; a tender lump in your palm, swelling, catching or popping sensation in your finger of thumb joints or pain when bending or straightening your finger.

Treatment for Trigger Finger

The osteopath normally begins with a detailed history and evaluation of the patient then proceeds to treatment. The treatment may include:

  • Joint mobilisation and soft tissue release where the tendon of affected finger is.
  • Light stretching and muscle release in finger and hand.
  • Suggested exercise, strengthening and stretching can be helpful for the patient to continue at home. Results: The results may vary depending on the severity of the trigger finger. Normally the patient will feel an overall improvement in finger mobility, less pain (or even no pain), and less or no popping. To prevent the trigger finger from occurring it is recommended to take frequent rest breaks at the workplace, perform stretching exercises where you show the opposite movement to the fingers as they are used to (as seen below).


Testimonial from one of our patients

A few years ago after a number of doctor appointments and testing, I was diagnosed as having both Carpal Tunnel and Trigger Finger symptoms. The doctor decided to schedule me for surgery. Due to the extensive wait time (having been waiting close to 1 year), I decided to explore osteopathy treatments with Lisane at Cappino Physiotherapy & Wellness Center. After seeing an osteopath at Cappino, my symptoms of both Carpal Tunnel and Trigger Finger have greatly diminished to the point where I will probably cancel surgery. The positive improvement was a result of one treatment. The current symptoms are very minor compared to previously, and I am convinced that these symptoms may completely disappear with additional treatment. Thank you Cappino for potentially eliminating surgery and the discomfort associated with it.

Regards, John

To learn more or to book an appointment, call 514-684-9073.


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