Osteopathy For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Are you experiencing discomfort, numbness, or tingling in your fingers? You may be dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS is a condition that affects the hands and can be caused by a variety of factors. While diagnosing CTS can be challenging, there are treatments available, including osteopathic medicine. In this article, we will explore how osteopathy can help those with CTS, what symptoms are caused by CTS, and what the diagnosis process looks like.

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What is a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that impacts people of all ages. It occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed or squeezed within the carpal tunnel on the palm side of the wrist. The median nerve provides sensation and feeling to parts of your hand and fingers. Compressing this nerve in its passageway can cause numbness, weakness or pain in your hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects about 3% to 6% of adults, and its symptoms can be from mild to severe, and they often depend on whether the nerve is compressed on just one side or both.

Anatomy Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is an area where bones meet at the wrist. This space is called the carpal canal, and it is surrounded by ligaments and muscles. At the bottom of the carpal canal is the flexor retinaculum. Which is made up of two layers of tissue: the deep, transverse carpal ligament and the superficial palmar fascia. These long-named tissues form a protective sheath around the median nerve. When the median nerve becomes compressed, it can become inflamed and swollen. This swelling can make the nerve more vulnerable to injury. The blood vessels that supply the median nerve may also swell, further compressing the nerve.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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The compression of the median nerve causes CTS. This nerve passes through an opening in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. Sometimes, fluid retention or swelling can cause this tunnel to narrow and put pressure on the median nerve. Some of the most common causes of CTS include:

  • Repetitive hand and wrist movements, such as typing or using a mouse
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Injuries or fractures in the wrist bones
  • Fluid retention or swelling in the wrist


In some cases, CTS may be caused by a combination of factors, rather than a single underlying cause. If you think you may have CTS, it is important to see an osteopath as soon as possible. The sooner you seek treatment for your symptoms, the more likely it is that your osteopath will be able to help.

Signs and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

In most cases, the pain associated with CTS worsens at night and becomes more severe as you use your hand. You may also experience numbness or tingling in your thumb and fingers. Making it difficult to hold onto things. If left untreated, CTS can lead to permanent nerve damage. This condition is often overlooked because people may simply think it is a strain. Or an injury related to repetitive hand movements (such as typing).

Risk factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A few risk factors can increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. These include:


Carpal tunnel syndrome is most common in middle-aged people but may also occur in older adults. It affects men and women equally.

Repetitive activities

Jobs or hobbies that require frequent hand and wrist movements increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. These include typing, playing musical instruments, painting, sewing and other crafts and sports such as golfing or bowling (or any activity where you hold the club and swing).

Playing video games

Playing video games for long periods can also cause problems with hand function later on due to prolonged use of those muscles without proper rest between play sessions.

Photo by Yan Krukov


Athletes who engage in sports like tennis or baseball are more likely to develop CTS because they perform repetitive motions repeatedly throughout their game regimens (e.g., swinging racquets overhand).

Health Conditions

Several health conditions can increase your risk of developing CTS. These include diabetes, menopause, kidney failure, rheumatoid arthritis, and hypothyroidism.

When to see an Osteopath

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), it is important to contact your osteopath as soon as possible. An osteopath can assess your wrists and hands to determine whether you have CTS and provide a treatment plan to reduce inflammation and improve your overall condition.

How do Osteopaths diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Before diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome, an osteopath will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. They may then conduct a physical examination to evaluate your hand and wrist mobility.

Osteopaths use a combination of techniques when carrying out this physical examination, including:

  • Palpation – feeling the tissues in your hand or wrist with their fingers;
  • Passive motion – moving your arm or hand through a full range of motion as possible (for example, trying to touch the back of your hand with the tip of one index finger);
  • Active motion – moving your arm or hand through a full range of motion as possible while you relax it;
  • Muscle testing – using force against muscles to test whether they are strong enough for normal activity

Osteopathic Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Osteopathic Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Osteopathic treatment has been shown to be effective in reducing pain, swelling, and numbness in the hands. As well as improving hand mobility and blood flow. Osteopathic manipulation involves specific movements to areas of the body to reduce pain.

Osteopathic manipulation can be done in many ways, including:

  • Hand and finger movements to help increase your range of motion and reduce pain;
  • Treatment of any possible underlying conditions contributing to your symptoms; and
  • Treatment of the nervous system using gentle pressure to specific areas.

What to Expect After the First Visit

Your osteopath may recommend exercises to maintain the results of your treatment. To prevent future injuries, lifestyle changes, such as stretching & regular breaks are suggested.

How many osteopathic appointments are required for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The number of appointments required will depend on the severity of your CTS and the results of each appointment. Some people may only need a single session to alleviate their symptoms, while others may require a series of appointments over time. The number of sessions needed can range from 3-4 to several months. This can depend on how long it takes to recover or if additional treatment is needed.

Carpal Tunnel Prevention

To prevent CTS, it is important to take care of your hands and wrists.

This includes taking breaks from repetitive hand movements, strengthening your fingers through exercise, and improving circulation in your wrist area.

If you already have CTS, it is important to avoid activities that require repetitive hand movements and to consider wearing a wrist splint to protect your wrists during activities that involve excessive force or strain.

What to do if you have a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you must talk to your osteopath about treatment options. The best treatment is managing the symptoms and preventing the condition from worsening.

Below are some tips for managing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Rest your hand. It’s important to give your wrist time to rest and heal. Resting your hand can help prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from worsening and causing other future problems.
  • Use a splint or wrist brace. You can wear one of these devices on your hand all day long, helping support the muscles and tendons in the affected area.
  • Use ergonomic tools when possible. Using the right tools can help prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Using a mouse with a trackball instead of two buttons can reduce pressure on your wrist while using a keyboard with an ergonomic design can help keep your hands in a more relaxed position while typing.
  • Avoid activities that cause wrist pain. It would help if you tried to avoid activities that cause wrist pain. If you are experiencing pain, stop what you are doing and wait for it to subside before continuing. Consult an osteopath if the pain persists following several days of rest.
  • Learn how to stretch and exercise your hands, wrists, and forearms. These exercises will help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from getting worse
  • Avoid sleeping on your wrists. If you sleep on your side, try to sleep with your hands in front of you. This will prevent median nerve pressure from causing wrist pain.

Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Here are some exercises that can help reduce the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Warmup. Begin by gently stretching your hands, wrists, and forearms. You can do this by gently bending your fingers back and forth several times in each direction. Next, stretch your hands as far as possible, with your palms facing up for several seconds before returning them to the starting position. Repeat this exercise three times with each hand.
  • Full Stretch. Hold your hand out in front while your palm is facing downwards. Use the other hand to gently pull your fingers back toward your wrist until they are straight and slightly uncomfortable. Maintain this posture for 30 seconds before relaxing and repeating it three times.
  • Prayer Stretch. The prayer stretch is a great way to relieve soreness in your hands and wrists. Hold your hands together in front of you to perform this stretch as though you were praying. Bring your elbows out, and your hands down until your hands and wrists feel a slight stretch. Maintain this posture for 30 seconds before relaxing and repeating it three times.
  • Pec Stretch. Grasp your hands behind your back and push your chest forwards until you feel a little stretch in your pecs. Maintain this posture for 30 seconds before relaxing and repeating it three times.
  • Anterior Stretch. To perform this stretch, put your hand on your collarbone and turn your head the opposite way until you feel a slight stretch in your neck. Maintain this posture for 30 seconds before doing the same stretch on the opposite side.

Watch the video below for a full demonstration of these stretches and tips on performing them correctly.


If you think you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it is important to seek help from an experienced osteopath. They can give you exercises to strengthen your wrist and hand muscles and recommend other treatment plans, such as massage or acupuncture if needed.

In addition, they can offer guidance on the best equipment for your work and lifestyle, such as ergonomic keyboards and mice. If you have any questions about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or the exercises mentioned in this article, don’t hesitate to contact us with your queries; we will do our best to help. You may also visit our osteopathy clinic at North Shore, Sydney.