There is a nerve that runs from the forearm, past the wrist and into the palm of the hand. It is called the median nerve, and when pinched or squeezed at the wrist, a condition known as carpal tunnel results. Because this nerve controls the sensation to the palm side of the thumb and fingers, damage or pressure to the nerve will cause tingling, numbness, shooting pain, and can even reduce your ability to move your fingers. The carpal tunnel is a small narrow channel made up of bone and ligament that the median nerve runs through. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one the most common nerve conditions in the hand. It will typically affect the dominant hand, is more common in women, and is most common in assembly line workers.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel

It may surprise you to know that contrary to what most believe, people who regularly type on a computer are actually not at any increased risk of developing the condition. People experiencing illnesses, pregnancy, and obesity however are at a higher risk. Compression on the median nerve due to narrowing of the carpal tunnel can be the result of several things. The tendons can become irritated and thicken. This thickening is what causes the narrowing which compresses the nerve. Rarely is carpal tunnel due to any injury of the nerve itself. Instead, its likely cause is congenital. Some people are just born with a narrower carpal tunnel than others.
Factors such as wrist injuries like sprains and fractures, an overactive pituitary gland, mechanical wrist problems, work stress, repeated use of vibrating tools, fluid retention (as in pregnancy), and a developing cyst or tumor can also cause carpal tunnel. In some cases, no cause can be determined. Studies have not been conclusive about whether repetitive motion causes the condition. Repetitive motion is more likely to cause bursitis or tendinitis than carpal tunnel.

Symptoms and Treatment of Carpal Tunnel

With carpal tunnel, early detection and treatment is important and can avoid any permanent damage. Usually, the symptoms will present themselves over time. The sensations usually include itching and burning, tingling, and numbness in the palm and fingers. The thumb and index fingers are most susceptible to these sensations. The fingers can feel swollen, even if there is no swelling present. Commonly, people will first notice issues in the night and may wake up feeling the need to shake out their hand and wrist. Over time, the symptoms will increase in frequency and decreased strength may be noticed. Some will become unable to differentiate between heat and cold applied to the hand and fingers. If carpal tunnel is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the median nerve and the muscles at the base of the thumb can wither.

Anyone experiencing the symptoms above should consult with a professional chiropractor immediately. A comprehensive physical examination will be completed to diagnose the syndrome. Any other contributing health issues such as diabetes or arthritis should be treated in conjunction with the carpal tunnel treatment. Usually, resting the hand and wrist for at least two weeks will be recommended. Splints may be used to immobilize the wrist as well. Ice can be used if swelling is present. Anti-inflammatory medication can help to reduce swelling and pain in the early stages as well. Exercise and physical therapy may be required as part of a complete chiropractic treatment plan.

If the syndrome is in a later stage or is not responding to treatment, surgical intervention may be required. Carpal tunnel release surgery is one of the country’s most common surgical procedures and is generally recommended for those who suffer with carpal tunnel for six months without significant response to more non-invasive treatment. Treatment of any kind can take months before the carpal tunnel is corrected. Chiropractic care and physical therapy is commonly needed following surgery as well to restore function and strength. After proper treatment, it is rare that the carpal tunnel syndrome would recur. In most cases, patients will fully recover when properly treated.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

The best way to treat carpal tunnel syndrome is to prevent it from happening in the first place. In many cases, even the best prevention cannot guarantee the condition will not occur, but there are many ways you can reduce your risk for carpal tunnel.
  • Good General Health: Healthy eating, proper sleep, regular exercise, and other aspects of good general health can reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel.
  • Strengthen Through Exercise: Working your hands and fingers with a stress ball or weights will keep the muscles of the arms, hands, and fingers strong and flexible.
  • Eliminate Activities: Anytime an activity seems to cause finger, hand, or wrist pain or numbness should be avoided. When using the hand and fingers for activity, use movements that spread the pressure and motion evenly throughout your hand and wrist. Take regular breaks, switch hands often, and use correct posture.
  • Ergonomics: If you are unable to fully control hand and wrist movement, the use of a splint can be helpful. Look for ways to reduce the amount of repeated motions and evaluate your work area to ensure it is ergonomic.
Carpal tunnel can strike at any age and can be a significant detriment to your range of motion and quality of life. Being aware of your activity, taking action to prevent the condition, and immediate treatment from your chiropractor whenever any symptoms appear can make a major difference in the success of your recovery and the elimination of any permanent damage.

Accelerate Chiropractic Can Relieve Your Carpal Tunnel!

At Accelerate Chiropractic, we are able to educate you on the treatment of conditions causing carpal tunnel, and we work closely with you to regain pain-free mobility.

Dr. Dave Yancey and Dr. Erika Yancey are passionate about providing treatment that gets you back on your feet comfortably. Learn about our experience and contact us today to schedule your personalized consultation. It’s time to reclaim the freedom that comes with mobility and comfort through Accelerate Chiropractic’s care.
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