Chiropractic Care for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Chiropractic Care for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

“Carpal tunnel syndrome is such a common diagnosis that people will say they have it if they experience wrist pain or numbness and tingling in their fingers or hand. Many times, this is accurate,” says Dr. Rick Gross of Quality Care Chiropractic. Okay… so what does that diagnosis mean? And what are the next steps for getting back to healthy hand functioning? Although surgery for this pain is common, it’s not necessarily the best path, especially when chiropractic care can be utilized.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

It is numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and arm. It is caused when the median nerve—which provides sensory and motor functions to the thumb and three middle fingers—is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of the hand.

The most common symptom of tingling or numbness can feel like “pins and needles,” burning, or even an electric shock; and the sensations can travel from the wrist up the arm. Commonly this happens while holding a steering wheel, a phone, or a newspaper, and the pain or numbness may worsen at night and can interrupt sleep. People also may experience weakness in the hand when gripping objects to the point that they may drop them. This can occur because of the numbness or weakened pinching muscles in the thumb.

Am I at Risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Although they aren’t direct causes, several biological and environmental factors increase risks of irritation or damage to the median nerve.

  • Carpal Tunnel Size. People with smaller carpal tunnels—which can occur from wrist fractures or dislocations or arthritis on the small wrist bones—are more likely candidates.
  • Gender. Women are much more likely than men to have this condition because of bone size.
  • Weight. Being obese offers increased risk.
  • Medical Conditions. Chronic conditions like diabetes increase the risk of nerve damage. Conditions like thyroid disorders, kidney failure, and lymphedema also can increase the likelihood, and inflammation from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can affect the lining around the wrist tendons and put pressure on the nerve. In addition, being pregnant or going through menopause can change the fluid retention in the body and increase pressure within the carpal tunnel.
  • Workplace Factors. Working with vibrating tools or performing prolonged or repetitive wrist flexing can create harmful pressure on the median nerve or worsen existing nerve damage, especially in cold environments.

Can I Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Before it becomes an issue, you can make a point to minimize stress on the hands and wrists by considering the following changes.

  • Reduce the force applied in tasks and relax your grip on objects.
  • Take short, frequent breaks to stretch and vary your tasks.
  • Keep your wrists, arms, and shoulders in a relaxed middle-position posture.
  • Keep your hands and wrists warm.
  • Change your computer keyboard and/or mouse to ergonomic alternatives.

Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Some people are simply unable to prevent it, so treatments aim at relieving the tingling and numbness and restoring wrist and hand function. The best treatment for you is based on your age, overall health history, severity of the pain, your tolerance for medications and therapies, and the prognosis for the issue.

Common treatments include splinting the hand to keep the wrist from moving and ease compression, taking anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling, adapting work by changing to ergonomic positioning or using a different computer keyboard, stretching and doing strengthening exercises, and undergoing surgery.

The Chiropractic Difference

“The Johns Hopkins website says that ‘carpal tunnel release is one of the most common hand conditions requiring surgery,’ so you may think that you ‘require’ surgery to treat your hand pain,” notes Dr. Gross. “Our experience in using specific, advanced chiropractic hand adjustments is that surgery is almost never required.”

Dr. Gross explains, “The wrist has eight carpal bones that all move together with the hand, fingers, and forearm. They are held together in an arc by a ligament across the bottom of your wrist (similar to a bowstring pulling a bow tightly into a curved arc). One of the problems with carpal tunnel surgery is that if that ligament is cut, it can cause the bow to lose its arc. A flattened-out wrist and carpal tunnel can lead to additional wrist problems.”

Dr. Gross advises, “By using advanced chiropractic adjustments on the wrist, we get the wrist and hand moving properly again without compromising the arc. Typically, we see 100-percent improvement in just a handful of treatments. To date, everyone we have treated has not needed carpal tunnel surgery.”

“The same is true for prevention,” Dr. Gross continues. “By getting your hands and wrists adjusted monthly, or at least a few times each year, you dramatically reduce your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Your results will be so much better than any other prevention advice.”

If you have pain in your wrist, hands, or arms that may be related to carpal tunnel syndrome, contact Quality Care Chiropractic in Aurora, IL, at (630) 499-2225 to learn how we can help bring you back to whole health.

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