Carpal tunnel syndrome is a debilitating condition that affects the median nerve in the wrist, causing pain, numbness, and tingling into the fingers and thumb. It results from swelling or inflammation due to excessive repetitive activity with the hands or improper positioning of the wrists while sleeping, writing, or using a computer. CTS can be caused by genetic factors, certain medical conditions, pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and obesity. In over 90% of cases, no cause is found. The risk of developing occupational CTS goes up significantly for people who continuously do one specific job for many years. Remediation efforts should focus on finding methods to avoid prolonged wrist flexion (bending) and forearm pronation (twisting), either by changing tools or hand position (or both).
Carpal Tunnel Symptoms: What to Look For
- Pain and numbness in the hands, most commonly at night. The pain may be steady or intermittent, burning, aching, sharp, or like an electrical shock. Sometimes the pain is not felt in hand but instead radiates up from it; this occurs when the weakness caused by CTS decreases your ability to grasp tightly with your fingers.
- Pains that worsen with activities involving pinched nerves within the arm suggest Carpal Tunnel Syndrome rather than those that depreciate with specific wrist movements only. Symptoms usually begin gradually and progress over months for mild cases but can develop within hours or days for more severe ones.
- Weakness in thumb opposition, wrist flexion, and pinch grip worsen before finger strength. Neurological symptoms may include numbness, tingling, pins-and-needles sensation, itching or burning in the fingers; loss of feeling in the hand; clumsy hand movements (ataxia); clumsiness with utensils and tools; difficulty writing (gripping a pen can be tricky). Symptoms often start gradually but can worsen over several days. There is usually no fever associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome
Several chiropractic treatments are available for carpal tunnel syndrome because the wrist is commonly affected in many patients. Treatment aims to relax your nervous system, increase blood flow and treat any underlying conditions like joint misalignments. The main reason we focus on treating the nerves, muscles, and joints is that they work together to make up the supporting structures of your body, which helps them stay aligned optimally against gravity. At Boca Chiropractic, here's what Dr. Matt McNabb can do:
Manual therapy done by the chiropractor could treat carpal tunnel syndrome without any drugs. A study was conducted using electromyography (EMG), which is testing used to measure the electrical activity of muscles, such as when muscle contracts and moves. What they found out was that EMG measurements increased after performing a median nerve mobilization. It means manual adjustments done on the wrist can improve how your nervous system works.
Some of our patients have also had good results through acupuncture because, like chiropractic treatment, it relieves pain and stiffness in your muscles and joints. Another technique called Graston therapy is used to break up adhesions between the tendons and ligaments, making it easier to move freely without much pressure put on the median nerve.
Medical treatment: If you have been diagnosed with CTS or are being treated for arthritis, then taking medications like corticosteroids can relieve inflammation and swelling around your joint. You should also avoid drugs such as aspirin because, unfortunately, they increase the risk of bleeding in surgical cases. Some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also be dangerous for people with peptic ulcers, so you should not take NSAIDs regularly if you have this condition.
Risk Factors for CTS
- Repetitive Task - Overuse: The use of the wrist in repetitive movements, whether at home or performing a job that requires frequent hand motions like typing on the computer, invites a lot of force on the median nerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel. These activities include: using screwdrivers, writing (especially with your non-dominant hand), construction work, or even some athletic events like badminton or tennis.
- Age: As you get older, your nerves are naturally affected by time, making them more susceptible to injury and diseases such as CTS.
- Gender: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is more common in women than it is in men.
- Exercise: The use of handheld weights directly targets the muscles around this area and balances out the body's overall nutrition. It promotes better blood flow throughout all areas of the body.
- Touch Therapy - Reducing tension by rubbing pressure points such as those found just below each collar bone at the base of each neck
- Yoga - Certain yoga positions are designed to stretch and strengthen muscles in the arms, back, neck, and shoulders, leading to reduced risk of CTS if practiced regularly or every month.
- Massage Therapy - Regular massages and regular hand treatments will help alleviate pain and strengthen the ligaments leading to healthier joints.
- Stress Management - Consistent training using stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply talking through your problems with others for guidance can substantially reduce your overall tension levels. Allowing you increased opportunities for rest rather than fighting off stress from work, school or family obligations. Take small breaks throughout your day, e.g., by briefly closing your eyes while sitting at your computer, or even standing in line at the store or waiting for your bus.
- Reduce Your Workload - Allow yourself time in between tasks to stretch and rest your hands, as well as taking a few moments away from your computer screen to walk around or perform daily chores that don't involve much use of your fingers or wrists.
- Use A Wrist Brace - If you are experiencing any pain, tingling, numbness, or swelling on either one of both hands and notice it worsens over time, then you must wear a wrist brace. Wearing one while sleeping is also a great way to relieve any stress on your wrists and hands resulting from the previous day's responsibilities.
- Eat Right - Avoid foods high in fat, salt, and sugar and those soft drinks containing caffeine like Mountain Dew or Sprite, causing you to be much more alert, which lessens the mind's ability to relax. It will also help reduce the chances of holding onto tension for extended periods throughout the day by taking brief moments every hour to stand up, stretch, and walk around.
Why your chiropractor can help you with this condition
There are two leading causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: compression at the wrist joint level and inflammation of the median nerve caused by repetitive actions. These two conditions are similar to those that cause CTS, but for different reasons. In contrast, other causes include trauma or pressure on nerves due to excessive or forceful manual operations. Direct injury of the hand structure is like when a finger is crushed in between doors. And heavy use of vibrating tools, which can aggravate symptoms already present in one's body.
To effectively treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – either as supplemental treatment among those who have no time for regular appointments at chiropractic clinics or as the primary treatment if your doctor recommends so – you will need care from an experienced and compassionate expert in this field. The good news is that you do not have to search far and wide because there is a Boca Chiropractor in Boca and its surrounding cities.
Segmental adjustment of the spine is one of the techniques through which a chiropractor can treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other associated health conditions. Many patients who got their healthcare from a chiropractor for CTS successfully reported improvements – even total recovery from symptoms related to this condition – after undergoing treatment with this technique. This method does not hurt like some traditional treatments such as surgery or rehabilitation.
In addition to spinal adjustment, a chiropractor may also suggest services such as massages and rehabilitation exercises for patients. It is not enough for patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to consult some medical expert or attend occasional appointments at a local clinic. They must also regularly do exercises that would strengthen their wrist structure to re-injure themselves once they feel better.
The benefits of chiropractic care for people with carpal tunnel syndrome are the following:
Improved sleep. Improved posture (typically). Decreased pain, especially when combined with exercise of the wrists and hands. Improved grip strength, pinch strength, decreased numbness and tingling in the extremities—better quality of life. Improved arm functions after carpal tunnel surgery for people who can't have the surgery or for whom it hasn't worked well enough. A conservative alternative to surgical intervention improves circulation and decreases inflammation and swelling around the nerve roots in your hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, etc. Chiropractic care has a long track record of helping those suffering from CTS symptoms get relief naturally without drugs (many drugs used to treat CTS make symptoms worse by keeping swelling in place). The earlier you get treatment, the better, as it helps relax and loosen up the wrist joint.