Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: How Chiropractic & Cervical Decompression Can Help Provide Relief
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve becomes trapped or is squeezed in the tunnel at the wrist. The nerve runs from your forearm to the palm of your hand, and is in a natural position to become trapped in this area. The carpal tunnel is a passageway made up of bones and ligaments at your wrist and hold the median nerve and the tendons required to move your fingers.
With overuse, like many of our patients that sit at computers all day, the tendons become irritated and swollen, which narrows the space in the carpal tunnel. When this happens, the patient may feel tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome is known as one of the more common "entrapment neuropathies," which just means that a nerve has become trapped, causing a problem.
What are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome causes?
For the Carpal tunnel syndrome patients we see in our office, the symptoms have come from overuse and bad posture from sitting at the computer for hours and hours for many years. The combination of poor ergonomics, no exercise, and years of covering the symptoms with over-the-counter pain medications will lead to more severe carpal tunnel symptoms.
The problem may originate with a trauma or injury that leads to swelling in the wrist, but this may be temporary until the swelling goes down after a few weeks. Less commonly, carpal tunnel syndrome may be due to an overactive pituitary gland, an underactive thyroid gland, or even rheumatoid arthritis. Carpal tunnel syndrome may develop during pregnancy due to fluid retention or may be the result of a tumor or cyst.
Services That Work Best For This Condition
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What are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms?
Patients typically report numbness and tingling in the fingers, usually starting with the thumb, index, or middle finger. Symptoms begin gradually and can start in one or both hands in the middle of the night. Your dominant hand will typically show symptoms first and will have the most severe symptoms.
Patients will report the need to shake their hands or wrists to get the feeling back. As the condition progresses, people can feel more numbness or tingling during the and with daily activities. Eventually, weakness in the hand may make it difficult to hold onto objects or perform basic tasks. In the most severe cases, patients lose the ability to feel hot or cold by touch and may accidentally burn themselves without feeling it.
What are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome tests?
Early diagnosis and treatment are important to help avoid any permanent damage to the median nerve due to prolonged pressure or irritation.
- A comprehensive examination of the spine, neck, hands, and arms along with any necessary x-rays . Cervical radiculopathy can often mimic symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and we find many patients are misdiagnosed. This leads to patients treating their wrists when they should be addressing problems in the neck.
- Specific orthopedic tests performed during the examination may produce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Your chiropractor will feel the neck and perform specific orthopedic tests that may reproduce or worsen the symptoms in order to rule out various causes.
- Electrodiagnostic tests is usually required to confirm the diagnosis of CTS. Your chiropractor will refer for this test, if needed. The nerve condition study (NCV) and electromyography (EMG) studies measure the sensory and motor components of the nerve and can indicate the specific area of entrapment. Further evaluation may be performed by Ultrasound or MRI (of the cervical spine).
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treated?
Patients usually begin with self treatment, including wearing a splint or brace at night, avoiding symptoms that cause or worsen symptoms, and taking over-the-counter medications. In mild cases, these may reduce the swelling and irritation enough to help the symptoms subside.
If the symptoms do subside, modifying any irritating activities and adding in wrist exercises can go a long way in preventing their return. Wrist exercises should be done consistently and should be avoided if pain or symptoms return.
We will perform adjustments to the cervical spine and wrist. Adjustments to the wrist often provide relief in just a few sessions, with additional sessions required to maintain the results.
Cervical Decompression Therapy
Still considered experimental by insurance companies, cervical decompression is a form of traction to create space between the vertebrae and restore the health and function to the cervical discs. Particularly if the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms are coming from the neck, this therapy will provide relief of symptoms during the session. Additional sessions continue to help restore discs and provider longer relief.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency (PEMF) therapy has been showing great results in our patients dealing with chronic pain. Working on a cellular level, this therapy helps to restore normal cellular function and repair damaged tissue. The therapy is comfortable and results are noticeable in just a few sessions.
We definitely want to do everything we can to avoid surgery, because Carpal tunnel release surgery is one of the most common procedures performed in the United States. The surgery involves cutting the ligament around the wrist to reduce pressure on the nerve. Many people require surgery on both hands, but the surgery is fast and has minimal recovery time.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of pain.
Let CORE Chiropractic help you get back on track with personalized chiropractic care, cervical spinal decompression, PEMF therapy, and a custom treatment plan. Call today for your consultation, or schedule an appointment.