We always use our hands! So living with pain and stiffness in this area is very difficult. At Mandurah Physiotherapy we understand the importance of getting normal range and function back into this area.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow bony and soft tissue passageway at the wrist which allows certain nerves and other soft tissue vessels to pass through into the hand. Sometimes pressure can build up in this tunnel causing pressure on the soft tissue structures and often in particular on the nerves passing through. This can cause numbness, pins and needles and often pain. A release of this tunnel means a small operation where they release some of the soft tissue structures in order to take the pressure off these vessels. You are left with a scar at the wrist on the palm side of the hand. This will, in general, take some time to settle down in both pain and swelling. Because the hand is a complex structure it tends to stiffen up very easily with minimal effort. So there are a couple of things that can be done:
*gently massage a little emu oil or moisturizer into the scar and the swollen aspects of the hand and wrist. Do this two to three times a day if possible. Use your thumb in a circular motion to break down any adhesions that may be forming from the scar tissue.
*Perform general stretches to the wrist and fingers. This should include taking your wrist up, down, to each side and turning a door handle movements. Try not to push past pain, rather stretch to a stiffness sensation. Assist in these stretches with your other hand acting as overpressure. Curl your fingers into a fist and open regularly throughout the day. Practice playing a pretend piano and practice taking each finger to the thumb to create the pincer grip.
*Don’t try to perform heavy lifting or difficult tasks for the initial 6-8 weeks until you are confident of your strength and function
*Don’t try to do repetitive tasks for long periods of time. Vary your activity regularly.
On a final note see your surgeon or hand specialist for a checkup if things don’t seem right. Sometimes it is only possible to stretch your hand so far and you really need to have a few sessions with your local physiotherapist in order to regain full movement and function. Mandurah Physiotherapy has experienced therapists in this area. We also work in conjunction with Handworks who specialize in this field.