Carpal tunnel syndrome is a collection of symptoms that generally affect the
wrist along with the thumb, index finger, middle finger and thumb-side of
the ring finger. To understand why CTS occurs, it helps to take a look
inside the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway that runs
through the back of the wrist. It is only about the size of a postage stamp
and it is crowded with nerves, blood vessels and nine different tendons,
packed in like strands of spaghetti.
The primary anatomical “design flaw” of the carpal tunnel is that it is completely enclosed and has little flexibility.
Therefore, the carpal tunnel cannot expand to accommodate tendon swelling from trauma or over use, which over
time, can result in a build up of an ever increasing tunnel pressure. This pressure ultimately compresses and
irritates the median nerve as it travels through the tunnel, negatively affecting its function. Median nerve
compression is what causes the episodes of numbness, tingling and burning of carpal tunnel syndrome.
By far, the most common carpal tunnel syndrome cause is repetitive, forceful movements of the hand, especially
with the wrist bent or the hand in an awkward position. Typing on a computer keyboard is probably the most
common cause of carpal tunnel. Repetitive motion, over time, can irritate the tendons and cause them to swell,
leading to CTS. For this reason, CTS, like tendinitis and bursitis, is considered a “cumulative trauma disorder".
Early on, the symptoms of CTS tend to appear in the middle of the night or shortly after an extended period of
repetitive motion and shaking out the hand often brings relief. The median nerve does not control the pinky finger,
so if your symptoms extend to your little finger, CTS most likely is not your problem.
Common Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Include:
- Numbness or tingling in the thumb and next two or three fingers of one or both hands.
- Numbness or tingling of the palm of the hand.
- Pain extending to the elbow.
- Pain in wrists or hands in one or both hands.
- Problems with fine finger movements (coordination) in one or both hands.
- Wasting away of the muscle under the thumb can occur in advanced or long-term cases.
- Weakness in one or both hands. Weak grip or difficulty carrying bags is a common complaint.
How Chiropractic Treatment May Help.
Carpal tunnel syndrome needs to be treated early to get the best results. If left untreated for too long, damage to
the median nerve can occur. Your chiropractor will perform an examination to determine if your symptoms are
due to carpal tunnel syndrome. Since the median nerve begins at the neck and runs through the arm and ends in
your fingers, the median nerve can actually be compressed anywhere along its long course from your neck to
your fingers. This means an examination of your hand, wrist, forearm, arm, shoulder and neck is needed to
determine exactly where the nerve is being compressed.
Once your doctor has determined the cause of the problem, treatment can begin. Carpal tunnel chiropractic
treatment involves gentle and specific adjustments to the wrist, elbow, shoulder and or neck. The adjustments
are designed to reduce nerve irritation, restore proper motion of the affected joints and relieve pain. As the
problem improves, patient education involving corrective exercises and stretching is given to help strengthen the
weakened area and help prevent future injury. When given time, conservative, chiropractic care has produced
excellent results with carpal tunnel problems. Without drugs or surgery.
If you feel you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, please do not hesitate to call our office to see if we can