Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that affects between 3% and 6% of American adults. It is three times as likely for women to have the condition and most people who develop it are aged between 40 and 60. If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent nerve damage, so it is important to get it looked at as soon as possible. A chiropractor can help to alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, reduce the pressure on your nerves, and help to bring your movement back.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway that runs through the palm side of your wrist. It is surrounded by bone and ligaments and it contains your median nerve. The median nerve runs from your forearm, through your carpal tunnel, to connect with your hand. Specifically, it is used to control movement and sensation in your thumb and fingers (except for your little finger).
Carpal tunnel syndrome is when the carpal tunnel becomes compressed and puts pressure on the median nerve. This can block the passageway of nerve signals to your hand, resulting in a range of symptoms. Most notably, you are likely to experience numbness and tingling in your hand and arm, including your thumb and fingers but not your little finger. Because the median nerve is responsible for some motor action, you may also experience weakness in your hand and find yourself frequently dropping objects.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by anatomical issues, such as a narrowing of the carpal tunnel due to a wrist fracture. Women are more likely to experience it because they have narrower carpal tunnels, to begin with. There are also a variety of risk factors, including:
• fluid retention
• diabetes (because of nerve damage)
• inflammation due to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
• working with vibrating machinery or making repetitive wrist actions at work
The jury is still out on whether extended computer use could trigger carpal tunnel syndrome but it appears that, if it does, it is because of mouse use rather than typing.
How a chiropractor can help with carpal tunnel syndrome
Standard medical care can help with carpal tunnel syndrome and includes anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, the use of a splint, and in extreme cases, surgery. Unfortunately, many of these treatments are associated with unpleasant side effects or risks. Chiropractic care, on the other hand, is as effective as standard medical treatments but without the associated side effects.
A chiropractor will first conduct a thorough medical examination, which may include X-rays or other scans, to determine if you are dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome. They will also take a full medical history to understand any potential causes or risks factors for the condition that you may have.
After this, a comprehensive treatment plan will be put in place to help treat your carpal tunnel syndrome and reduce your pain and movement issues.
The exact treatment plan will vary depending on your specific circumstances but it will often involve chiropractic manipulation. This won't just be aimed at your wrist, but it will instead work to improve the balance and functionality of that side of your body to help support your wrist and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from re-occurring. Your chiropractor will often manipulate your cervical spine (top of your spine), elbow, and wrist, and this can effectively reduce your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
Other treatments will be aimed at reducing inflammation to prevent narrowing of the carpal tunnel, and this can include massage therapy, cold therapy, wrist exercises, and more. Your chiropractor may also give you lifestyle and health advice to help reduce your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome in the future. This can include nutrition advice to reduce inflammation, workplace ergonomic advice, and exercise advice.
The bottom line
Working with a chiropractor to treat carpal tunnel syndrome is an effective way of reducing your symptoms with a non-invasive and drug-free method, helping you to avoid the side effects associated with standard medical treatment. Your chiropractor will look at the whole picture of why carpal tunnel syndrome might be happening in your specific case and will use a range of treatment modalities to treat the condition and to prevent it from coming back.