Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
by Dr. Darrell M. Schreyer, D.C.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is compression of the median nerve at the wrist, which may result in numbness, tingling, weakness, or actual muscle atrophy (shrinking) in the hand and fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in people who perform repetitive motions of the hand and wrist, such as typing, keyboarding and computer mouse manipulation. When the wrist is poorly positioned, there isn't enough space for the median nerve to travel to the hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure exerted on the median nerve at the point where it passes through the wrist. The median nerve supplies sensation to the thumb-side of the palm, and to the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and the thumb-side of the ring finger. It also supplies movement to part of the hand.
The condition occurs most often in people 30 to 60 years old, and is five times more common in women than men. Some of the conditions associated with carpal tunnel syndrome include pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and menopause. This is probably because of hormone changes that cause fluid retention and swelling of the tissues.
Other conditions associated with carpal tunnel syndrome include rheumatoid arthritis, renal failure, diabetes, acromegaly, hypothyroidism, multiple myeloma, obesity, recent tuberculosis, fungal infection, and high blood pressure. Injury or trauma to the area, including (but not limited to) repetitive movement of the wrists, can cause swelling of the tissues and carpal tunnel syndrome. This type of injury may be caused by sports such as racquetball and handball, or occur during sewing, typing, driving, assembly-line work, painting, writing, use of tools (especially hand tools or tools that vibrate), or similar activities.
The Chiropractic Approach
Let's get one thing straight. Chiropractic is not a treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It is however, very effective in alleviating the symptoms often associated with CTS
. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is commonly misdiagnosed for another problem I like to refer to as "Pseudo-CTS". This is when the Carpal (wrist) bones are moved out of their normal position and compress the Carpal Tunnel where the median nerve and artery run through. If this is the case, a trained chiropractor can adjust the wrist bone back to it's normal position and relieve the pressure on the nerve. If the pressure on the nerve is relieved, the symptoms improve, and the patient has a solution to their problem.
It is common for a chiropractor to examine the elbow, shoulder and neck joints as well as the wrist. These joints are all found on the distribution pathway of the median nerve as it exits the spinal cord and makes it's way to the hand. Compression of the nerve along this path can also produce symptoms in the wrist and hand.
At Eastside Chiropractic, we have had significant success with "Pseudo-CTS" and some success with correctly diagnosed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Patient's results have ranged from reduction of symptoms to complete alleviation of the problem. Some have even been saved from having to constantly wear a wrist brace or being subjected to an unnecessary surgery.