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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is an injury that is the result of a pinched nerve in the wrist. This can lead to pain and numbness in the index and middle fingers as well as weakness in the thumb. Carpal tunnel receives its name from the eight bones located in the wrist, which are known as carpals. These 8 carpals form a “tunnel” through which the nerves to leading to your hand extend.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Loss of strength in the palm of your hand and thumb.
A pain shooting from the hand up the arm (this pain can extend as far as the shoulder).
Feeling of uselessness in the fingers.
Pain and tingling in the hands at night, which can frequently lead to sleepless nights.
A feeling that your fingers are swollen even if there is little to no swelling that actually occurs.
Daytime tingling that makes it difficult to squeeze objects.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel contains tendons (bundles of collagen fibers that attach your muscles to your bones) that control the movements of your fingers. Tasks that require highly repetitive and forceful movements of the wrist can result in swelling around these tendons, which can lead to a pinched nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common overuse injury, but can also be the result of pregnancy, trauma and certain diseases.
Who’s Most at Risk for Developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Individuals who spend a lot of time using a computer keyboard or those who work with small hand tools are most likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Women are two-five times more likely than men to experience carpal tunnel syndrome; If you are between the ages of 30 and 60 you are most likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
Chiropractic Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Chiropractic treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome is common. Methods used by chiropractors to treat carpal tunnel syndrome can include manipulation of the wrist, elbow and upper spine. Treatment may also include ultrasound and wrist supports.
Spinal Adjustments as Chiropractic Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Misalignments of the spine can often contribute to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. As a result, adjustments of the spine that aim to correct improper alignment of the spine after often beneficial in treating individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Ultrasound Therapy as Chiropractic Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Ultrasound therapy can use either very high-energy or very low energy sound, both of which are outside of a normal individuals hearing range, so that you usually are unable to hear anything during treatment. Ultrasound therapy emits focused sound waves that penetrate deep into body tissue. The sound waves relax the muscles, alleviate pain and help to reduce inflammation in the wrist and surrounding areas.
Wrist supports are often used by chiropractors as part of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Wrist supports aim to help keep the wrist in proper alignment after chiropractic treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. They can also be used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome or prevent further injury to the wrist.
Studies have been conducted that support chiropractic treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. In one study, 25 individuals with a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome reported significant improvements in several measures including strength, range of motion and a decrease in pain after receiving chiropractic care. For a majority of these individuals the improvements lasted for at least 6 months.
One study compared conservative medical care of carpal tunnel syndrome to chiropractic care of carpal tunnel syndrome. Both groups reported significant improvements in their nerve function, finger sensations and comfort levels. As a result of this study, researchers have completed that chiropractic care and conservative medical care are equal when it comes to effectiveness of treating individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Other Alternative Treatment Methods for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Some other possible alternative treatment methods can include
Massage Therapy. Massage therapy may help to prevent or relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome especially when used in combination with rosemary or St. John’s wort oil.Physical Medicine.
Physical medicine can include contrast hydrotherapy. This means alternating hot and cold water applications to help relieve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. This approach is often used to reduce pain, decrease inflammation and enhance healing. Castor oil packs can also be used to treat the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Apply castor oil to a cloth, wrap it around the wrist and over it was plastic wrap. Apply a heating pad for 1 hour or sleep with the application on the wrist.
Conventional Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
The management of carpal tunnel syndrome by a medical doctor largely depends on the severity of your symptoms.
Prevention. Fortunately there are ways to prevent carpal tunnel. You can also work to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that already exists.Stretching your fingers and arms before, during and after working with your hands can help prevent CTS.Alternate tasks to avoid repetitive strain on the wrists.Modify activities that put a lot of stress on the wrists.
Drug Therapies. Medical doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce swelling, pain and redness. Corticosteroids may also be injected at the site of the carpal tunnel to help reduce tendon swelling.
Surgery. For patients who do not experience improvement with medication or conservative treatment methods, surgery may be recommended.