Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are eight bones found in your wrist that form a U-shaped channel that houses several tendons and your median nerve. This channel is known as the carpal tunnel. Your median nerve is responsible for your feeling and your sensation on the palm side of your first 3 ½ fingers.
Compression or irritation of this nerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel is responsible for the creation of a condition known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). CTS is currently the most common nerve entrapment, affecting 3-5% of the general population. Females are affected roughly two or three times more often than males. Carpal tunnel syndrome most often is found in adults age 45-60.
The median nerve, which passes through the carpal tunnel, is often a culprit of wrist and hand pain. The median nerve originates in your neck and traverses down your arm all the way into your hand. There are 4 main locations where this nerve can be compromised. The wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck are common places where this nerve can become entrapped.
It is important to always rule out the spine as the source of pain before examining different areas of the body. A study shows that 39% of hand/wrist pain stems from the neck. If you have tight muscles in your elbow or under arm, this can hinder the median nerve and cause symptoms mimicking carpal tunnel.
If you are considering going through carpal tunnel surgery, visit us to determine if the pain truly arises from the carpal tunnel.
CTS can be caused by prolonged wrist flexion and/or repetitive wrist motions like supermarket scanning, hairstyling, keyboard use, carpentry or assembly line work. If you are a computer worker typing for 8 hours a day, your wrists are constantly in a position that closes down on the carpal tunnel. This repetitive motion can cause the muscles and ligaments surrounding the tunnel to compress the median nerve causing pain in the palm and fingers (Excluding the pinkie)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is more common in your dominant hand but can also frequently affect both hands. If you have a job or hobby that has your wrist in constant flexion, you are more than likely suffering from true carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treating carpal tunnel syndrome begins with determining if the median nerve is entrapped in the neck, shoulder, elbow, and/or wrist. When this is determined, specific movement strategies, chiropractic adjustments, functional dry needling, and acupuncture are utilized.
The best treatment for true carpal tunnel syndrome is loading the wrist to open up the carpal tunnel. Whatever position your wrist is typically in during the day, load it in the exact opposite direction to stretch out the structures which are compromising the median nerve. It is best to consult a physician before attempting self treatment so that the injury is not aggravated
If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause your forearm to sustain permanent nerve damage. A bout of conservative care is recommended before any further invasive option is explored. Often times chiropractic care can relieve carpal tunnel symptoms, but there are cases that had to be surgically repaired.