Mount Auburn Hospital Occupational Therapy Dept

Upper Hand Therapy and Training
Specializing in Upper Extremity Injuries and Personal Training
Phone – 617.306.5130
Fax – 617.393.0283
P.O. Box 643 Watertown, MA 02472
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome results from the entrapment of and/or pressure on the median nerve at
the wrist. The median nerve and the tendons of the finger flexors and thumb share a common
tunnel at the wrist which is bound on three sides by bones and on the fourth side by a ligament.
Any process that decreases the space in the tunnel may result in the symptoms associated with
carpal tunnel syndrome. When the pressure from the swelling becomes great enough to change
the way the nerve works, numbness, tingling, and pain may be felt in the thumb, index, middle
and one half of the ring finger especially at night and with prolonged gripping.
Mild cases can be treated with a splint to rest the wrist followed by exercises. In moderate to
severe cases, steroid injections into the carpal canal to decrease swelling may be used in addition
to splinting. Those cases that do not respond to non-surgical treatment and those that are
diagnosed late often require surgery. Changing activities or keeping the wrist in a straight
position may help reduce the swelling within the tunnel, allowing more room for the nerve.
Wearing wrist splints during the night may relieve the symptoms that interfere with sleep. Antiinflammatory medication taken by mouth or injected into the carpal tunnel may help reduce the
swelling within the carpal tunnel.