Carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, is a condition where the nerve that runs from the forearm into the hand gets compressed. Carpal tunnel can cause significant pain and result in numbness that makes using your hand practically impossible.
Carpal tunnel affects approximately 3% of the population. Carpal tunnel sufferers, fortunately, there are effective treatments that do not require surgery. Chiropractic care can help relieve the pain of carpal tunnel, and can often improve mobility and range of motion in the process.
The term “carpal tunnel” refers to an actual tunnel created by ligaments and bones in the wrist. Tendons and median nerves travel from the forearm through the carpal tunnel in the wrist and into the hand. When the median nerve becomes compressed inside the carpal tunnel—usually due to injury or inflammation—it can lead to the symptoms associated with CTS.
The exact cause of CTS is not always easy to identify, but there are many factors that can play a role. A family history of CTS makes it more likely that you will develop the condition. Repetitive work, such as a job on an assembly line, is known to increase the risk of CTS. Wrist injuries can also cause carpal tunnel. There are other contributing factors that are not as obvious, such as pregnancy, menopause, and dialysis.
Symptoms and Progression
The first signs of carpal tunnel often include a feeling of pins and needles in the wrist, hands, and fingers. You may notice some numbness from time to time, especially after using the wrist in a way that causes compression—like performing a task over and over at work.
Over time, the symptoms can become more severe. Eventually, carpal tunnel can lead to a loss of coordination with the thumb, then other digits. Pain may not be significant at first, but tends to get worse and the condition progresses.
How Chiropractic Care Can Help
Standard medical treatments for carpal tunnel include using anti-inflammatory drugs, refraining from using the wrist/hand, wearing a splint and eventually surgery. While these treatments can sometimes be effective, the risks associated with surgery are significant. Carpal tunnel surgery may or may not fix the problem, and as with any surgery, can sometimes cause more issues than it helps.
Protect Your Body
Chiropractic care offers a safe alternative to standard medical care, one that is non-invasive and minimizes the need for medications and their potential side effects. Chiropractic treatments for carpal tunnel can help to reduce inflammation and minimize pain. But chiropractic goes further than just treating the symptoms—it can also help you avoid aggravating the condition so that it can heal.
Chiropractors are trained in proper movement and ergonomics. Your chiropractor can help you understand what you are doing that is causing the carpal tunnel to begin with. He or she can also advise you on ways to adjust your movements to protect your wrists moving forward. You may be able to learn new ways of doing things that will allow you to achieve your goals without risking injury.
One of the fundamentals of chiropractic care is improving strength and mobility to aid in healing and protect from further injury. Your chiropractor can guide you through exercises to make you stronger. Once you know how to do the exercises, you can do them at home to continue to gain strength.