The authors of a new study on carpal tunnel syndrome show that patients returned earlier to their activities of daily living and work when they receive manual therapy versus those who receive surgery. At one year the results between manual therapy and surgery were similar, but at 1 month they were significantly better in the manual therapy group.
Conservative treatment often includes everything from splints, steroid injections, lasers, and other treatments that are lumped with “physical therapy”. But this study shows that it is manual therapy that may do the most benefit.
Manual therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome consists of releasing the tissues around the median nerve that are causing the symptom. The nerve travels all the way from the cervical spine to the hand. Too often practitioners only treat the area surrounding the carpal tunnel symptoms, and fail to consider the more proximal nerve entrapment sites.
The Effectiveness of Manual Therapy Versus Surgery on Self-reported Function, Cervical Range of Motion, and Pinch Grip Force in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017 Mar;47(3):151-161. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2017.7090. Epub 2017 Feb 3.