Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is it and how can chiropractic help?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a medical condition due to compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist at the carpal tunnel. The neck is the cause of carpal tunnel “like” symptoms 80% of the time. CTS is a repetitive stress injury. The main symptoms are pain, numbness, and tingling, in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and the thumb side of the ring fingers. Symptoms typically start gradually and are worse during the night. Pain may extend up the arm. Weak grip strength may occur and after a long period of time the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away. In more than half of cases both sides are affected. When these symptoms are caused by a misalignment in the cervical vertebra, surgery is of no value. Having carpal tunnel surgery misses the cause of the symptoms. After this painful surgery and long rehabilitation time it is likely that the painful symptoms will return if misaligned vertebra go uncorrected.
A study looked at the range of motion for 71 women with carpal tunnel syndrome when they moved their necks. When the data was compared to the range of motion in the neck for women without carpal syndrome, it was found that women with carpal syndrome had significant limitations and restrictions to their neck movement. In fact, the more severe the pain in the arms and wrist were from carpal tunnel syndrome, the more restricted was the motion of the neck when it was flexed towards the side of the body most affected by carpal tunnel syndrome. For women with just moderate pain from carpal tunnel syndrome, bending the neck towards the side of the body experiencing carpal tunnel pain was much easier.
If patients were steered toward chiropractic prior to deciding on surgery perhaps they could avoid surgery and rehabilitation. Chiropractic adjustments to the wrist can reshape the carpal tunnel which is impinging on the medial nerve in the hand and is beneficial for patients seeking noninvasive relief from this ailment that has become all too prevalent with the increased use of computers, cell phones etc.
How Does It Occur?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive motion, such as typing, texting or completing repetitive motions with the hands like assembly line work. These actions may cause pain and injury over time. The elbow and shoulder can also be effected. Cubital tunnel syndrome, also known as ulnar neuropathy caused by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve, which passes close to the skin’s surface in the area of the elbow commonly known as the “funny bone.” You can develop cubital tunnel syndrome if you repeatedly lean your elbows on hard surfaces. Shoulder misalignments can also effect these condition.
Typically, chiropractic care, for CTS is to address the problematic wrist and elbow, as well as adjustments of the upper spine. Misalignment in the spine does contribute to symptoms of CTS. Patients are advised to rest the affected arm, apply cold to reduce inflammation and perform recommended exercises. If you are experiencing marked weakness in your wrists and or hands your condition is more urgent. Stress also plays a factor in CTS so it is important to find ways to relax and reduce stress as much as possible.
Chiropractors administer care for more than just relieving pain. The ultimate goal of the chiropractor is to help restore and maintain the body’s natural state of ideal health.