Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The carpal tunnel—a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand—houses the median nerve and the tendons that bend the fingers. The median nerve provides feeling to the palm side of the thumb and to the index, middle, and part of the ring fingers (although not the little finger). It also controls some small muscles at the base of the thumb.
Common Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Tingling or numbness.You may experience tingling and numbness in your fingers or hand. This sensation often occurs while holding a steering wheel, phone or newspaper or, commonly, waking you from sleeping. The sensation may extend from your wrist up your arm.
- Many people “shake out” their hands to try to relieve their symptoms. As the disorder progresses, the numb feeling may become constant.
- You may experience weakness in your hand and a tendency to drop objects. This may be due to the numbness in your hand or weakness of the thumb’s pinching muscles, which are controlled by the median nerve.
Common Causes Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be made worse if the wrist is overextended repeatedly. Repeated motions of your wrist contribute to swelling and compression of the median nerve.
- Poor positioning of your wrists while using your keyboard or mouse.
- Prolonged exposure to vibrations from using hand tools or power tools.
- Any repeated movement that overextends your wrist, such as playing the piano or typing.
- Misalignment of the joints in the wrist causing compression of the median nerve in combination with impingement of nerves in the neck or shoulder.
Conditions Associated With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Fractures Or Trauma To The Wrist
- Autoimmune Disorders Such As Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Thyroid Dysfunction
- Fluid Retention From Pregnancy Or Menopause
- High Blood Pressure
How Chiropractic Care Can Help
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury (RSI). This category of injuries is caused by repetitive motion, such as typing or assembly line work, which causes pain and injury over time. The earlier that an RSI is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome can be. Diagnosis includes physical examination and possibly x-rays. Typically, the chiropractic treatment for RSI includes manipulation of the affected wrist and elbow, as well as manipulation of the upper spine. A spinal manipulation involves applying controlled pressure to a joint. The chiropractor may also advise the patient to rest the affected arm, apply cold to reduce inflammation, perform appropriate exercises, or wear a splint or brace to immobilize the area.