You might be familiar with the term Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), especially because it is a growing problem affecting nearly 5% of our working population at any given time, but you might not know much else about it. Let’s learn more about CTS and what we can be done to help this growing problem.
Carpal Tunnel syndrome describes the symptoms associated with an entrapment of a particular nerve in the wrist, called the median nerve.
Symptoms associated in CTS include:
- Numbness, tingling, weakness or pain into the thumb, index, middle and half of the ring finder (median nerve distribution area).
- Reduction in wrist strength and grip strength.
- Reduced range of motion in the wrist.
- Inflammation and pain around the wrist.
The Carpal Tunnel is formed by 8 small bones in your wrist and a strong ligament called the flexor retinaculum. These structures form a “tunnel” through which many tendons pass, as well as your median nerve coming down from your arm.
Repetitive use of the forearm, wrists, and hands will cause irritation of the tendons in the tunnel, causing inflammation to build up which eventually compresses the median nerve leading to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. The inflammation stays in the enclosed structure and builds up in the tunnel leading to direct compression on the median nerve. Anyone using their arms and hands repetitively is at risk: computer workers, musicians, factory workers, and chefs are a few examples. Falls and fractures to the wrist can result in the development of CTS. Certain medication use, arthritis and Paget’s disease can also cause CTS but these are less common.
Since the nerves that pass through your wrist begin in your neck, it’s important to have these areas examined for dysfunction and nerve irritation. Since the nerves begin in the neck it’s vitally important to look beyond the wrist once CTS symptoms present themselves. “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome” is a condition when various nerves are entrapped around the bracial plexus (nerve bundle) in the neck. People who have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome may experience symptoms similar to CTS, even though the nerve compression is in the neck.
It is important to be mindful of your posture and practice proper work-space ergonomics to prevent CTS from worsening or even starting in the first place.
The tradition medical approach for CTS includes splinting the wrist in a neutral position, drug therapy, steroid injections and at times surgical release of the carpal tunnel is recommended.
A chiropractor approaches this a little differently. Instead of bracing the area of pain, or injecting the area with drugs, we evaluate the neck and associated nerves, which feed into the wrist and hand. It’s important that all sites be examined for nerve compression. Reducing the nerve interference allows the body to heal and has also been shown to relive your symptoms.
Studies have shown improvements in wrist strength, range of motion and nerve symptoms following chiropractic care. Correction of misalignment’s in your spine and extremities, along with mobilization of the carpal bones, nerves and surrounding soft tissues in the arm and wrist have been shown to improve CTS symptoms in a safe non-invasive way using chiropractic.
Schedule an appointment with us today and learn more about Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, its effects on the body and how we can help you heal.