A new study out of Poland has found promising results for nerve mobilisation exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is exciting because it gives us another effective treatment to try before seeking surgery. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a progressive condition of the median nerve in the wrist where it passes through the carpal tunnel. To read more about the condition see our previous blog post here.
The study included 150 patients (that is a lot!) with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and randomly allocated them to 2 groups. The first group received twice weekly neural mobilisation techniques performed by a Physiotherapist for 10 weeks. The second group received the same amount of treatments but the treatments were purposely ineffective (sham). After the 10 weeks they measured pain levels, sensation and strength again and found some exciting changes. The second group had no change, which you would expect from doing nothing for them, but the first group showed good improvements. Everyone in the first group experienced a reduction in pain from an average of 6/10 to 1.5/10, and their sensation improved. The only thing that didn’t improve was their strength, this may have needed other specific strengthening exercises to improve.
What is Neural Mobilisation?
Our nerves are designed to move as we move. They slide up and back in their case, lengthening and shortening as we move our muscles and joints. We know that for nerves to be healthy and transmit their messages effectively, they need to be able to move. In the case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome the median nerve is compressed and so can’t move as freely as it normally would.
Neural mobilisation is a gentle technique, much like a really gentle muscle stretch, that encourages the nerve to move again. We use our knowledge of where the median nerve travels to gently glide the nerve in its sheath without aggravating symptoms. To you it will feel like we are just bending and straightening your elbow while doing the opposite with your wrist! The exciting thing about this technique is that it is something we can teach you to do at home.