My hand is numb do I have carpal tunnel?
The answer as it often is, is “It depends”. Numbness, pain in the palm, and the hand falling asleep are the most common symptoms with carpal tunnel. True carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve as it goes through the carpal tunnel where the hand meets the wrist. If this is the case, manual therapy will be used to relieve the pressure. A brace at night and postural changes will help get the symptoms under control. However, these same symptoms can be caused by multiple other structures in the body. The most common site of referred pain or symptoms is the cervical spine. Compression of nerve roots in the spine often replicate these same symptoms as carpal tunnel.
Structures deep in the body do not have pain receptors so the individual feels the pain where that structure attaches to the spinal cord. There is a previous post on this if you have an expanded interest. Often your physical therapist will treat the spine to relieve symptoms in your hand. This will relieve pressure on the nerve roots and fix the symptoms in the hand. Carpal tunnel is a very common diagnosis patients come in with and finding the true cause of the symptoms is integral to fixing the problem.
The treatment for compression of nerves in the spine is completely different than carpal tunnel so correct diagnosis is crucial for a successful rehab. Check in with your physical therapist to get you feeling better today.