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What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
CTS is a painful and even debilitating disorder affecting the wrist, hand, and fingers. When the median nerve — the main nerve of the frontal forearm — becomes compressed, it can cause pain, limited function, and cause other symptoms to develop. Often related to occupation, carpal tunnel syndrome typically occurs as the result of repetitive motions that irritate the soft tissues of the forearm, wrist, and hand. Injuries such as wrist fractures can also trigger the onset of CTS. Let’s explore the biology of this crucial nerve pathway below.
What is the Carpal Tunnel?
The carpal tunnel is the narrow passageway in the wrist made up of ligament and bone. The carpal tunnel is located in the heel of the hand where the median nerve and tendons pass through to the hand and fingers. When the carpal tunnel becomes aggravated, it becomes swollen and inflamed, which then pinches and irritates the passing median nerve.
What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Most commonly, people experience symptoms localized along the median nerve pathway, as well as radiating symptoms up or down the arm and into the tips of the fingers. The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness and tingling
- A sensation that the hand feels “asleep”
- Pain in the thumb and first three fingers of the hand
- Burning pain that travels up the arm
- Nightime wrist pain that impedes sleep
- Weakness in the muscles of the hand and fingers
- Inability to grip tightly
- Reduced function and movement
- Decreased range of motion in the wrist, thumb, and/or fingers
- Frequently drop objects
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There are many different causes and risk factors of CTS that contribute to the development of this condition. The signs, symptoms, and risk factors may include:
- Overuse and repetition
- Trauma or wrist injury
- Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis
- Hypothyroidism or thyroid dysfunction
- High blood pressure
- Fluid retention
- Diabetes mellitus
- Chronic inflammation
- And more
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is Most Commonly the Result of:
- Overuse of the affected hand and wrist
- Repetitious occupational or recreational activities, particularly those that require repetition
- Awkward or sustained postures
- Unusual force or gripping
- Exposure to either vibration or temperature extremes
- Pregnancy, thyroid disorders, obesity, and heredity factors must also be considered in the diagnosis
Who’s at Risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Anyone can develop carpal tunnel syndrome, but there are a few risk factors that are specifically linked to this disorder. Here are the groups who are most at-risk for CTS;
- Women, more so than men
- Office workers and other typing occupations
- Artists, designers, and writers
- Restaurant and dining industry
- Assembly line work
How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?
Often misdiagnosed, it is very important for sufferers to undergo a comprehensive assessment in order to eliminate the possibilities of a variety of conditions that can mimic carpal tunnel syndrome, particularly prior to undergoing surgical intervention.
How Can I Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
CTS is a preventable and treatable disorder. By making changes to your lifestyle, especially those that directly affect your hand and wrist movements, can help you prevent the onset or worsening symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are some preventative tips to consider:
- Reduce your risk by treating and managing health conditions that can cause or contribute to CTS (e.g., diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, etc.).
- Pay careful attention to the posture of your hand to maintain proper alignment.
- Wear a wrist support or a splint to support the posture of your wrist and hand when performing everyday activities.
- Avoid repetitive motions when performing everyday, occupational, and recreational activities.
- Avoid activities that cause you to overextend your wrist.
- Reduce your intake of inflammatory foods and beverages from your diet to reduce inflammation and swelling.
- Take breaks and stretch frequently throughout the day to prevent swelling and inflammation.
- Drink plenty of water to hydrate your tissues.
- Use ice or cold therapy to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.
- Practice proper lifting techniques to prevent wrist injuries.
- Talk to your chiropractor about the best clinical treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome.
How Can Chiropractic Help with Carpal Tunnel Pain?
Fortunately, the great majority of carpal tunnel syndrome patients obtain an accurate diagnosis as well as significant relief through conservative, non-surgical management of the disorder. Your Leawood chiropractor takes a natural approach to treat carpal tunnel syndrome through corrective and wellness care to help you avoid surgery and increase the canal size through mobilization. Your treatments may include:
- Manual manipulation to the affected joints of the wrist
- Medical massage therapy
- Physical rehabilitation
- Nutritional counseling
- Information on ergonomics
- Related advice regarding workstation modification and lifestyle considerations.
How Does Medical Massage Help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Your medical massage therapist offers relief from your carpal tunnel by breaking down the scar tissue and restoring the affected muscles to their natural abilities. By breaking down scar tissue and adhesions caused by overuse or trauma, your medical massage therapist can effectively help to encourage better circulation, improve elasticity and flexibility, all of which may allow for better movement. What’s more, receiving regular massage treatments can enhance the chiropractic care you receive. Your massage therapist can loosen the tight, tense muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the forearm, wrist, and hand, which can allow for better joint mobilization.
Experience the Benefits of Natural Carpal Tunnel Pain Relief
Discover how both chiropractic care, massage therapy, and acupuncture can help relieve the restrictive pain of carpal tunnel through holistic care. Call our chiropractic clinic in Leawood for your personal consultation now at 913-681-7757, or reach out to us online by filling out our contact us form.