Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What is it and how to manage it


Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that occurs when there is too much pressure on the median nerve in one or both wrists. It may include symptoms of; tingling, numbness and pain in the wrists, hands and fingers.


The term ‘carpal tunnel’ refers to a small corridor running to the wrist inside the forearm. It is comprised of the carpal bones at the top of the tunnel and the transverse carpal ligament on the underside of the tunnel. Tendons, blood vessels and the median nerve all occupy this small space and each structure contributes to the function of the hands and wrist (Figure 1).


Hand anatomy

Figure 1: ( )


The primary symptoms of Carpal Tunnel syndrome may include sensations of tingling, pain or numbness, and weakness, resulting in difficulty gripping objects and moving fingers. Pain, pins and needles and weakness is often concentrated in the thumb, index and middle finger and half of the ring finger as well as in the wrist itself. Symptoms are generally worse at night, and symptoms tend to be stronger on your dominant hand side.


Generally, anything that reduces the space in the carpal tunnel, or increases the volume in the tunnel or irritates the median nerve can result in carpal tunnel syndrome. Most commonly, inflammation from an underlying condition can lead to increased swelling in the wrist and sometimes reduced blood flow. Some of the causes include:


  • Wrist fracture
  • Rheumatoid arthritis in the wrist
  • Pregnancy
  • Flexor Tenosynovitis or flexor tendinitis
  • Repetitive bending or sustained bending of the wrist


Carpal tunnel is diagnosed by these painful symptoms in conjunction with a number of non-invasive tests and a physical assessment done by a Hand Physiotherapist. Depending on symptoms and circumstance, an ultrasound may be advised in order to check for irregularities in the wrist. Unclear symptoms may require a nerve conduction study in order to determine precisely what problem is occurring.


Treatment for carpal tunnel may include using a wrist splint to enable the wrist to rest, thereby reducing the swelling in the tunnel. A splint will maintain the wrist in the best position to minimise the pressure within the tunnel. Your Hand Physiotherapist may also use manual treatments to reduce inflammation and swelling, improve movements in the hand and wrist and to maintain the strength of the hand and wrist.


Home exercises to help alleviate symptoms including: icing the hand and wrist, elevating the hand and wrist and gently exercising to try to restore some flexibility and strength may also be incorporated in the management for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If these methods are not effective, steroid injection of cortisone, diuretics and surgery may be considered in consultation with a Hand Surgeon.


Further discussion with your Hand Physiotherapist on how to manage symptoms and adapt your household and work activities to work around the condition and alleviate its symptoms can be very helpful.


About The Author: Sophie Halsall-McLennan is Physiotherapist from Australia who has a special interest in running clinical pilates in the Geelong region and is the owner of Fresh Start Physiotherapy. She has a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from Charles Sturt Physiotherapy, and over 12 years of clinical experience as a Physiotherapist and is registered with AHPRA. She is also a Lecturer at Deakin University.

5 healthy habits you can start today

The Office Athlete

Happy Birthday to us!

The Office Athlete just turned 5! How exciting and what a 5 years it has been. We are forever growing our client base and helping all types of offices and athletes focus on injury prevention and healthier habits. 2017 is flying by already and we are heading through the first quarter of the year alarmingly fast. We thought to celebrate our 5 wonderful years of putting Physiotherapy goodness out there, we would share our healthy tips to look after yourself from top to toes after you unwind from a busy day from whatever your office may be.

Did you know…

  • your head can weight up to 27kg when you’re looking at your phone?
Neck injury prevention

weight of head is 5.4kg and dramatically increases in weight every cm we look forward and down

So how do we fix this? We still need to text, type, scroll, double tap and live. Moderation is key with everything for a healthier life. Short breaks, postural restoration techniques such as squeezing those shoulder blades together and giving your neck a gentle stretch side to side help reduce that build up of upper trapezius tension from sustained force and strain from your head position.

  •  At the end of the day, we all have to work, or study or travel. All involve sitting. As Mike Reinold ever so brilliantly worded ‘Sitting isn’t that bad for you’. We all have to do it. But how can we enhance it in order to reduce the risk of injury and develop healthier working habits? Sitting all day can’t particularly be avoided in its entirety, but we can reduce the stress and strain as much as possible. Try some of these simple stretches when you’re at home. Use the time waiting for the kettle to boil, the microwave to beep or the compulsory advertisement on YouTube to finish.



Healthy habits and Injury prevention stretching

    Thoracic rotations
Healthy habits and Injury prevention stretching

Back extensions










We really do put our feet through a lot. Prolonged standing, uncomfortable shoes and general long distance walking. Tightnesses and trigger point development through our asymmetrical stances can occur without us even knowing! A fabulous way of combatting these nasties is so simple. Get your hands on a tennis ball or even better one of these trigger point balls. Used in sitting or standing, rolling through the arch of your foot and comparing both sides allows you to learn about the discrepancies between your left and right feet along with treating fascial tightness… And it feels oh so good


Healthy habits and Injury prevention stretching

Plantar fascia release techniques

Did you know….

  • That we subconsciously hold our breath when we text?  Think of the amount of texts you send and receive every day. This results in your poor neck muscles, such as your Traps, Sternocleidomastoid and Scalenes increasing in muscle tension to compensate.  So when you think about it, texting, tindering and trawling through your news feed is a huge contributor to poor breathing and those tight shoulders of yours. How do we combat this? Simple. Relax, exhale and drop down your shoulders. Try and catch yourself in the act too. And just take in 5 simple, slow deep breaths and it really does make you realise how we operate in a state of tension when we are in auto-pilot working away throughout the day.
  • You are most likely using your thumb to scroll on your smart phone or index fingers clicking away on your computer reading this post. Considering the amount of hours we are connected and communicating, it is important to give our hands and wrists a little love back (before they take their revenge and give you a niggle or worse… a repetitive strain injury. Here are two simple and easily forgotten stretches that are bound to do wonders for you


Healthy habits and Injury prevention stretching

Wrist extensor stretching

Healthy habits and Injury prevention stretching

Wrist flexor stretching









Want to know more about how combat postural strain and reduce injury risk?

Get in contact with us and ask us about booking a consultation

Happy stretching, working and healthier living, Athletes!

Love TOA

Corporate Wellness

Wellness in the workplace

The movement of workplace wellness has taken off


Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.


At The Office Athlete, we focus on the physical wellness component of your health. We aim to make corporate wellbeing more personal and adapted to your inner athlete. If you’re primarily based at the desk, we provide self-assessments; physiotherapy preventative programs and education in order to keep any progressive build up of injuries at bay.

If you’re a weekend warrior, we also tailor our assessments to consider your inner athlete outside of the office – ensuring the specific sporting interests you have are able to be considered with our injury prevention programs


The search for the culprit:

Within the clinic setting, whether it be neck pain, shoulder pain, lower back pain, wrist pain etc, Physiotherapists tend to see the injury as how it presents. The beauty of heading out into the workplace to assess your work space and activities ensures we can find the culprit. In today’s society, we are unilateral creatures in the work we do and predominately have our posture focused on what is in front of us at the desk, on the iPad or on the phone. These habits and positions we incorpate in out day to day doings take up such a large portion of our hours awake. There’s no wonder injuries and niggles build up over time and then present as an injury.

So that’s where Physiotherapy can come in handy.


Initiative examples:

The Office Athlete was very proud to take a part in WellNes week at Nespresso’s head office in Sydney.

There was a range health initiatives going on to help promote a healthy lifestyle for this hard working team. There were beauty and style professionals about giving tips, yoga sessions to tap into your inner zen, along with a life coach to help detoxify the mind.

This all-rounded approach to health and wellbeing was strongly praised by the Nespresso team.


The Office Athlete’s role was onsite Physiotherapy. Jennifer assessed the office environment, individual workstations, work habits and go through a comprehensive history of any pre-existing injuries for the Nespresso staff. Individual Physiotherapy programs were provided to each employee, with specific stretching and strengthening exercises to address any pre-existing injuries that have occurred outside of work or may be exacerbated from work.


The Office Athlete followed up with the staff from their previous physiotherapy intervention and workstation assessment in September, and here’s what they have to say:


Marcus: Just wanted to say thank you for coming in last week and helping me with my office chair and how to sit properly. Since you have helped me with my chair it has been so much more comfortable, and I hardly have any back pain or neck pain. All in all I have experienced a massive improvement, so thank you very much


Oliver: Just wanted to say a massive thank you !! the small desk arrangement recommendations you made has made the world of difference.


Peter: My neck and wrist pain has improved so much since those changes to my work set up. I have noticed such a difference. You’re the best!




Onsite ergonomic assessment and onsite Physiotherapy consultations



130 workstations assessed

98% of employees required adjustments

36% required equipment changes or acquired

74% had a work related pain or injury

22% had a non-work related injury

76% had a non-work related Physiotherapy consult as well as an ergonomic consult

100% felt they benefitted from their previous assessment after a 2 month follow up

100% have felt a significant improvement in any pre-existing neck, shoulder and wrist pain after their Physiotherapy consult with The Office Athlete.


All in all – there were some happy customers!


Where else is Wellness?



From climbing walls and ping-pong tables to on site cafes and childcare services, Google’s wellness initiatives enhance their staff’s working experience by offering a wide variety of activities and services

Healthy initiatives in the office

Healthy initiatives in the office










Safety is the number one priority of Qantas and recently during safety week, Qantas staff we able to utilize a broad range of health professionals to ensure they are remaining in tip-top shape. Onsite during this health initiative there were nutrition consultations, vision and hearing checks, meditation stations, Physiotherapy, Iridology and nurse health checks.


In a nutshell:

What does wellness mean to you? Wellness is more than being free from illness. Wellness is a dynamic process of change and growth. There are many interrelated dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, environmental, and occupational. Each dimension is equally vital in the pursuit of optimum health.

Social Wellness

Perform social roles effectively and comfortably, and create a support network.

Occupational Wellness

Enjoy your occupational endeavors and appreciate your contributions.

Physical Wellness

Maintain a healthy body and seek medical care when needed.

Intellectual Wellness

Have an open mind when you encounter new ideas and continue to expand your knowledge.

Emotional Wellness

Understand your feelings and cope effectively with stress.

Spiritual Wellness

Develop a set of values that help you seek meaning and purpose.

Environmental Wellness

Respect the delicate balance between the environment and ourselves.


Sometimes it’s the simple things

Nespresso George Clooney Nespresso coffee room bathroom gorgeousness IMG_4288 IMG_4281 IMG_4282 IMG_4280 The Office Athlete

The Office Athlete