NJ Teachers Article for October 2014
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) comes from pressure on the median nerve in your wrist, and causes tingling, pain and numbness in your wrist and hand. It can even result in loss of muscle strength, and numbness if most prevalent in the thumb, index and middle fingers, often first noticed upon waking.
The most common nerve disorder of the hands, carpal tunnel syndrome afflicts mostly women between 40 and 55, and 60% of all work injuries are due to CTS. Common occupations at high risk for CTS are secretaries, carpenters, weightlifters and meat packers. Young women can also develop CTS during pregnancy because of hormonal effects upon ligaments and tendons.
Located at the base of the palm, the carpal tunnel is made up of bones, tendons and a thick ligament, all of which encircle the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when this nerve becomes pinched or inflamed, usually a result of repetitive motion from typing or any other sustained activity that overuses this area. An injury to the wrist or hand can also result in nerve damage to the carpal tunnel.
How is CTS treated?
Common treatment options offered by physicians include corticosteroid injections into the area, which will temporarily relieve pain and swelling, but this does not actively treat the problem. In particularly severe cases, surgery is often recommended, but this should be a last resort, since surgery can result in scarring and weakening of the ligament, and symptoms can eventually recur.
After X-ray or electromyography studies, your chiropractor can determine the extent of injury and the exact mode of manipulation necessary to alleviate the problem. Chiropractic manipulation has been proven effective in treating CTS because chiropractors are nervous system experts. Adjunct treatment LCT 1000 Deep Tissue (Class IV) Laser may be the most advanced and effective way to alleviate pain and promote healing for CTS sufferers. Acupuncture has also been shown to be an effective treatment option for the pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Wrist support is very helpful in resting the area and relieving symptoms, even during sleep. Patients with CTS are also encouraged to take breaks and vary their activities during the day to avoid overuse of the area, and to wear fingerless gloves to promote warmth and flexibility in the hands and wrists.
To help prevent CTS from occurring, especially if you perform repetitive tasks with your hands at home or at work, keep your joints healthy by keeping them moving. This is true for all the joints in the body. The more you move, the less stiffness you’ll have. Whether you’re reading, watching TV, or working at a desk job all day, take breaks when possible and move!
Dr. Brad Butler, DC, owner and Clinic Director of Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy, received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from New York Chiropractic College in 1995. Dr. Butler is a noted contributor to two NY Times best-selling books, and was named “One of America’s Top Chiropractors” multiple times by Consumer Research Council of America and awarded “NJ Top Doctor” four years in a row by NJTopDocs.com. He is post-graduate proficiency rated in Newborn/Pregnancy Care by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, Activator Methods Proficiency Rated and Chiropractic Sports Injuries Proficiency Rated by the NYCC.
* Reprinted with permission from New Jersey Teachers Magazine.