This condition is due to a compression of the median nerve at the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome results in numbness of the thumb, index finger and middle finger, and often occurs or worsens at night. It can be associated with several other conditions, including tendonitis, arthritis, wrist fracture, and diabetes. It can also be confused with numbness caused by other nerve compressions in the elbow, chest or neck. Because of this, make sure you get a comprehensive evaluation to determine the cause of the numbness.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome often requires the fabrication of a custom thermoplastic splint (orthosis) for you to wear night. Occasionally, a prefabricated splint will suffice. The night splint needs to be positioned in wrist neutral, and often needs to provide support up to the middle joints of the fingers, preventing the wrist from flexing and preventing you from making a fist during sleeping. This keeps compression off the median nerve.
Depending on your lifestyle and whether your carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with any other conditions (ie arthritis) sometimes your hand therapist may recommend a secondary daytime splint.
There are also specific tendon and nerve gliding exercises that can help alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome. Your hand therapist can evaluate your particular case and make recommendations for you based on your needs.
Please note that the information on this page is for reference only and not a substitute for medical advice. If you have a hand injury or condition that requires treatment, please see your physician or hand therapist for an assessment.