What is Carpal Tunnel?
Chiropractic Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
You are sitting at your desk, pretending to work, but focusing your attention on the discomfort you are feeling in your hand. The numbness and tingling is overwhelming. Every now and then, with the click of your mouse, you feel it: that sharp pain shooting down from the wrist to your hand. This is what carpal tunnel syndrome feels like. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very painful progressive condition caused by nerve compression in the wrist.
Nerve Pain and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects many people but is often associated with people that work on a computer on a regular basis. Unfortunately that is the majority of the work force these days! What happens is an important nerve running down the arm, called the Median nerve, gets compressed at the wrist. This nerve supplies the sensation and muscle control to the thumb and the next 3 fingers on the palm side of the hand. This nerve travels down the lateral, or thumb side, of the arm into the hand and passes through a narrow space in the wrist between ligaments and the 8 tiny bones that make up the wrist. When this space is disrupted, either by thickening of tendons or misalignment of the bony structures of the wrist, the median nerve can be irritated causing symptoms of pain, weakness, or numbness to the wrist and hand.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel
Symptoms do not always happen immediately. Many times the symptoms onset gradually. Some patients report that they felt itching sensations in the palm prior to experiencing any burning pain or numbness and tingling. With carpal tunnel syndrome the problem typically affects only one side of the body because the problem is in the wrist. If you are experiencing pain in both wrists and hands, many times the problem could be coming from somewhere else such as the cervical spine aka the neck.
What to Do With Wrist Pain
Many times patients will come into our office with pain in the wrist or hand and upon examination there is the presence of a subluxation of one of the bones in the wrist. A subluxation in this context simply means a bone out of place less than if it was a dislocation. When this happens the carpal tunnel will narrow causing compression of the median nerve. By restoring proper alignment to the joints in the wrist many times the symptoms of carpal tunnel will dissipate.
Other times there is issue with the ligaments of the wrist. The ligaments can thicken unknowingly, however it is believed that repetitive motion of the wrist is what causes this thickening to happen. When these ligaments thicken they compress down on the nerve causing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome should be treated as soon as possible. Initial treatment typically involves rest or immobilization of the wrist for a period of approximately 2 weeks to reduce any swelling and irritation to the structures of the wrist. Sometimes a splint or brace may be worn at night specifically to help immobilize the wrist while sleeping. Ice is also an important treatment to reduce the inflammation and swelling that may be present in the wrist. I would highly recommend coming in to our office to assess your situation and see if chiropractic care can help you and prevent any surgical intervention, although surgery may be warranted in some cases. If we can not help we will refer you to a trusted physician for treatment of your condition.