Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that pain, numbness, and tingling in the arm, wrist, and hand. If carpal tunnel syndrome is severe and resistant to treatment, the only option is usually surgery. Chiropractic care can offer a wide range of treatments that can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from getting to the point that surgery is needed.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a literal tunnel in the wrist formed by tiny bones. Through the tunnel runs the median nerve. The median nerve starts at the top of the arm and runs down the forearm, through the carpal tunnel, and into the hand. It controls the feelings and movements in the thumb and all of the fingers except the pinky finger.
When the carpal tunnel becomes swollen or damaged, it compresses and puts pressure on the median nerve, causing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually appear first in the dominant hand, tend to be worse at night, start slowly, and tend to come and go.
* Aches/pain in the fingers, the hand, and/or the arm
* Tingling or pins and needles
* Weak thumbs
* Trouble gripping objects
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome has a variety of causes, some of which are underlying conditions and some of which are the result of external factors.
* Being overweight
* Being pregnant
* A previous wrist injury
* A job or hobbies that involve repetitive bending of the wrists or gripping of the hands
How can chiropractic care help with carpal tunnel syndrome?
A chiropractic care approach to treating carpal tunnel syndrome will usually involve several different treatment options. At the initial assessment, the chiropractic clinician will first take information about medical history (including family history), and about lifestyle/daily routine. After this, they will examine the hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders to determine if the carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by an injury or by an underlying condition. They will often conduct a spinal manipulation to examine spinal health.
After the initial assessment, a treatment plan will be drawn up. For carpal tunnel syndrome, the plan will usually incorporate a variety of treatments. These can include:
* Resting the affected arm, wrist, and hand
* The use of a splint
* Cold packs to reduce swelling that could be affecting the carpal tunnel
* Stretching exercises
* Strengthening exercises to promote stabilization
* Soft tissue massage
* Joint manipulation of the shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand
Does chiropractic care work for carpal tunnel syndrome?
Chiropractic care can reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and restore the full use of that hand. In one case study, manipulations to the cervical spine, elbow, and wrist using a small sharp thrust resulted in an increase in grip strength, and the normalization of motor function and sensory experience in the hand (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8046280/).
Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect the ability to work and to enjoy their leisure time. Seeking chiropractic care to treat it can help to reduce the symptoms and restore function. This can mean a return to normal daily life for many people, without the need for surgery.