Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where the median nerve which travels through the wrist is being compressed, causing pain and numbness in the hand. The carpal tunnel contains tendons that control finger movement. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome stems from prolonged repetitive use causing an irritation or compression of the median nerve.
The compression present in carpal tunnel syndrome (or ‘pinched nerve’) does not always occur at the wrist. A pair of nerve roots emerges from the spinal cord at each vertebral level of the spine and the median nerve is formed by several nerve roots emerging from the lower part of the neck. From there, the median nerve travels down the arm to the wrist and hand and can become entrapped anywhere along its path.
There are many identifiable symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These include painful tingling in the hands, weakness in fingers, feelings of swelling in fingers with no apparent swelling, and shooting pain through the wrist and hand. This pain is most often at its worst in the evening, and particularly affects the thumb and first two fingers.
Carpal Tunnel can originate from a number of activities, the most common of which being repetitive keyboard typing. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome develops most commonly in people aged 40-60, particularly women. Certain lifestyle factors can also influence Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, such as cigarette smoking and high caffeine and alcohol use.
It is important to remember that not all wrist pain is attributable to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome such as shooting pain, weakness and tingling may also be the result of an irritation of the nerves in the neck, nerve entrapment in the elbow or a previous autoimmune injury. Thorough examination by a chiropractor can determine whether your wrist pain is due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or another musculoskeletal condition.
There are many helpful Carpal Tunnel Syndrome remedies. While some medical professionals suggest surgery to remove the pressure on the nerves, more conservative and less invasive and painful options are available. Treatment by the chiropractor may involve joint adjustment or mobilization, massage, stretching, trigger point therapy, splinting, rehabilitative exercises, ice and heat.
Splinting of the wrists is common for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, to stabilize the wrist and prevent further damage from excessive movement. While this can provide relief to symptoms, it can occasionally result in the wrist muscles becoming weak and lazy. A chiropractor can monitor the progress of any splinting, and recommend alternative treatments if splinting is not the preferred option. Behavior modification may be necessary, and advice can be given by your chiropractor as to how to implement changes in your work and daily life. Paying attention to proper ergonomic principles and posture can also help overcome Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Current evidence shows significant short-term benefit from splinting, ultrasound, yoga and carpal bone mobilization.