Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a painful, debilitating condition affecting a person’s hands and wrists. It is a progressive condition, meaning the signs and symptoms develop slowly over time. Patients often feel a burning, tingling, or an itchy numbness in the palm and fingers, the thumbs, index fingers and middle fingers.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the most expensive of all work-related injuries. Over a person’s lifetime carpal tunnel can cost an individual about $30,000 dollars in medical bills and lost wages.
Carpal tunnel normally affects adults with women being 3 times more likely to develop carpal tunnel than men. Typically carpal tunnel occurs in a person’s dominant hand first with the pain usually being quite severe. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is especially common in assembly-line workers in manufacturing, sewing, finishing, cleaning, meatpacking, and other similar industries. Contrary to what many people believe, individuals who work at computers typing daily are not at an increased risk of developing CTS.
What exactly is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a problem that affects the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of your hand. The median nerve controls sensation to the palm side of your thumb and first three fingers and sends brain impulses to small muscles in the hand that allow you to move your thumb and fingers. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the median nerve gets compressed in the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway at the wrist that is made up of bones and soft tissues such as nerves, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. The compression on the median nerve may result in pain, weakness, and/or numbness in the hand and wrist which can radiate up into the forearm.
What are the symptoms of CTS?
Symptoms can vary but the most common are burning, itching, and/or numbness in the palm of the hand and thumb, index and middle fingers. People suffering from CTS often complain that their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though there is little or no swelling present. Most people first start to notice symptoms while sleeping since many people sleep with flexed wrists. As symptoms worsen, they may begin to experience more tingling or pain throughout the day. In addition to the tingling or pain some people may notice weakened grip strength making it hard to form a fist or grasp small objects.
What causes CTS to develop?
There are several different reasons a person can develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Some people have smaller carpal tunnels than others, which makes the median nerve compression more likely to occur. In others, CTS can develop because of an injury to the wrist, such as a sprain or fracture which can cause swelling. Illness can also increase your risk for CTS such as having an over active pituitary gland, hypothyroidism, diabetes, or inflammatory arthritis. Other causes of CTS include poor work ergonomics, repeated use of vibrating hand tools, mechanical problems in the wrist joint and fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause.
How is CTS diagnosed?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be diagnosed and treated by one of our chiropractors at Centro Chiropractic Clinic even in its early stages. Treatment should begin as soon as possible for an optimal outcome. A standard physical examination of the hands, arms, shoulders, and neck can help determine if your symptoms are related to daily activities or to another underlying condition.
How is CTS Treated?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has traditionally been treated by anti-inflammatory drugs, and/or surgery. However, chiropractic treatment is a safe and effective alternative because it targets the median nerve compression that is the underlying cause of pain and discomfort associated with CTS. Chiropractic adjustments to the wrist support proper joint alignment and relieve the inflammation that is causing the median nerve compression.
Further treatments may include joint mobilization and manipulation to help the joints in the wrist move freely again. Soft tissue treatments are also helpful in relaxing the muscles that can be compressing the nerves in the hands and wrists.
Treatment will also include one of our health care providers teaching you corrective exercises that you can do at home that are specifically designed to help build back muscle strength in your forearm, wrist, hand and fingers.
Tips to help prevent CTS:
- Perform on-the-job conditioning such as stretching and light exercises
- Take frequent rest breaks
- Wear splints to help keep the wrists straight
- Use fingerless gloves to keep the hands warm and flexible
- Use correct posture and wrist position
If you are suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Centro Chiropractic Clinic can help. Don’t ignore the pain, give us a call today at 503-550-1140 for a free consultation and start on the road to recovery.