Therapists at Palmdale Regional’s Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute can help to lessen pain and return function to hands and forearms.

Aug. 26, 2021

Vincent Chui, occupational therapistHave you spent years making repetitive hand movements and now feel discomfort? If so, you may want to determine if you have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). It’s a condition affecting the forearm, hand, wrist and fingers, and symptoms include pain, tingling and numbness.

Hsien-Chih "Vincent" Chiu is an occupational and certified hand therapist at the Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute (ROI) at Palmdale Regional Medical Center. He works with patients experiencing CTS every day.

Chiu explains that CTS is caused by compression to the median nerve in the wrist. The nerve extends down the arm and forearm into the hand, through the carpal tunnel. It controls the sensation in the fingers and the muscles at the base of the thumb.

“People who use their hands a lot have higher rates of CTS,” he says. “Examples include mechanics, people who work in construction and workers who use tools that cause a lot of vibration.”

What Is the Carpal Tunnel?

Chiu suggests a simple way to find the carpal tunnel on your wrist:

  • Put your hand on the table, palm facing up.
  • Draw a line from the tip of your thumb toward your wrist.
  • Then draw a line from the tip of your small finger toward your wrist.

The carpal tunnel is located where those two lines cross each other on the wrist. Nine tendons and the median nerve run through this small passage.

“With CTS, the median nerve is the problem child,” Chiu explains. “If there’s too much pressure on the nerve, then you have numbness, tingling, pain or even a burning sensation from the thumb to the ring finger.” That’s when patients should turn to Chiu and the ROI.

CTS Treatment at Palmdale Regional

Occupational therapists like Chiu help patients at Palmdale Regional experiencing CTS with a range of treatments.

“If you start to have symptoms, the most important thing is to stop what you’re doing and get care,” Chiu says. “We can use braces to immobilize and rest the wrist, and also show you therapeutic exercises.”

Chiu and his team can suggest ergonomic changes to help increase functionality while relieving pain, and more. Should patients require surgery, Palmdale Regional offers minimally invasive procedures and its ROI provides postsurgical care.

Practice Prevention

If your job or lifestyle involves the repetitive movements that often cause CTS, there are things you can do to help avoid developing the condition. The key is to decrease the strain on your hands and wrists.

“No matter what you do, if you can keep your wrists in a neutral position, where you’re not bending them up or down, that can reduce a lot of pressure to the median nerve,” Chiu says.

Taking breaks from repetitive movements, correcting posture and stretching exercises can also help prevent CTS. If this condition is impacting your lifestyle, don’t wait! Chiu and Palmdale Regional are here to help.