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Occupational Therapy, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and The DASH

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) effects approximately 10% of the population and is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel (Cantero-Téllez, Algar, & Valdes, 2019). Common symptoms of CTS include numbness or tingling in the hand or arm, pain with use of the hand, weakness in the hand or wrist, hand pain at night, and hand clumsiness (Cantero-Téllez, 2019).

As occupational therapists, our main focus with each client is to promote their ability to perform meaningful activities independently. It is important that we take a client-centered approach and discover what the client values as important to them. One way to do this is to select an assessment during the intial evaluation that not only assesses the physical aspect of the client’s condition, but the effect that it has on his/her functional performance as well (Cantero-Téllez, et al., 2019). These outcome measures must be “comprehensive, valid, and reliable to adequately measure the effectiveness of intervention” (Cantero-Téllez, et al., 2019, p. 234). One such measure is the Disability of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) assessment.

The DASH looks at how the client’s symptoms effect their performance in number of activities. Once the therapist knows how the client is affected functionally, they are then able to create a treatment plan with the client to help them get to where they need to be. With CTS, occupational therapists implement interventions that focus on edema management, range of motion, strengthening, compensatory strategies, treatment modalities, and the gradual progression back into functional activities (Cantero-Téllez, et al., 2019). Further into the treatment process, the DASH will be used again to measure how the client’s functional performance has progressed.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we'd love to help! Contact our clinic to schedule your evaluation!


Cantero-Téllez, R., Naughton, N., Algar, L., & Valdes, K. (2019). Linking hand therapy outcome measures used after carpal tunnel release to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: A systematic review. Journal of Hand Therapy, 32(2), 233–242.

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