Physical Therapy Isn't Helping My Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What Now?

Dec 11, 2023

Physical Therapy Isn't Helping My Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What Now?

Carpal tunnel syndrome can make it feel impossible to do normal everyday tasks. When physical therapy isn’t solving the problem, what should you choose to do next?

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can leave you feeling like the appendages at the ends of your arms aren’t much more than useless mitts. People with CTS often have trouble with normal tasks like dressing, feeding themselves, opening medication bottles, or even just turning a doorknob.  

At Advanced Orthopedics & Sports Medicine (AOSM), located in Union City and Dyersburg, Tennessee, Dr. Michael Calfee, Paxton Sisson PA-C, and the rest of our skilled team are here to help diagnose and treat cases of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel basics

Carpal tunnel syndrome stems from an issue with the median nerve, which runs through the tunnel formed by bones, tendons, and ligaments that extends from your wrist into your hand. When this nerve gets compressed due to inflammation and narrowing of the tunnel, you’ve got a high chance of ending up with entrapment syndrome. 

This condition causes various symptoms, ranging from weakness, numbness, and tingling in one or both hands, to pain that shoots from your wrist into your fingers and even up your arm to the elbow. There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing entrapment syndrome and CTS.  

Risk factors for CTS  

You’re at higher risk for CTS if you have one or more of these indicators:  

  • You’re a woman: smaller wrists are more easily compressed   
  • You work a desk job: typing and using a mouse cause wear-and-tear in the wrist  
  • You’ve already got an inflammatory disease: such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis 
  • You have fluid retention: common in women who are menopausal or pregnant  
  • You’ve got a past history of wrist injuries: such as sprains or fractures  
  • You’re suffering from thyroid dysfunction: often preexisting in patients with CTS  

If you suspect CTS, Dr. Calfee may recommend a nerve conduction study to measure the conduction speed of the nerve’s impulses. If the signals are slow, you’re likely dealing with CTS, and we’ll start you on a conservative treatment regimen that includes physical therapy.

What to do when physical therapy doesn’t help

If physical therapy and adjacent options like lifestyle changes and wrist splints aren’t providing adequate relief, it may be time to move on to other treatments. 

First, we try corticosteroid injections into the carpal tunnel to see if they’ll help. This goal is to reduce inflammation in the carpal tunnel and thereby reduce pressure on the median nerve.

If that doesn't work, we can discuss surgical options. Your surgeon uses minimally invasive techniques to perform your wrist surgery, so your recovery can be as swift as possible, and you can get back to your normal life. 

Suffering with CTS?  We can help. To get in touch, call the AOSM location closest to you, or book an appointment online.