The carpal tunnel is located at the base of the palm. It 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.
Symptoms range from numbness, tingling and pain to loss of muscle strength. Numbness is most prevalent in the thumb, index and middle fingers, and is often first noticed upon waking.
Who Gets Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
CTS is the most common nerve disorder of the hands, but the majority of cases occur in 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.
Treatment of CTS
Traditional physicians often inject corticosteroids into the area, which will temporarily relieve pain and swelling, but this does not actively treat the problem. When CTS is severe, 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.
Chiropractic manipulation has been proven effective in treating CTS because chiropractors are nervous system experts. 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. 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.
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.
What if it Still Hurts?
Some people do not respond to typical treatment of the wrist because the painful nerve compression is occurring not only in the wrist, but also further along the nerve path to the neck or at multiple locations. The effects of the compression at the lower area is exaggerated by the other higher up compression. This is called Double Crush Syndrome and can be helped with chiropractic management that includes spinal manipulation and physical therapy.
Reprinted with permission from Think Teachers Magazine.