Pain, tingling or numbness over the palm and into the first 3 fingers may be caused by irritation to the median nerve at the carpal tunnel. This passageway into the wrist is a crowded one, so proper function is extremely important.
People who work at desks, typing with strained wrist flexion with lack of support are the most common to experience carpal tunnel symptoms. Other professions that require repetitive type wrist motion are also prone to this type of injury, such as chefs or drivers. The first step in combating CTS is addressing ergonomics of the work station. Providing support to the wrist at a keyboard, making sure the chair is the correct height to the desk.
Chiropractic care can aid in healing the injured median nerve and tendons of the forearm by mobilizing the bones of the wrist, hand and forearm. Mobilizing these structures makes sure no adhesion or restrictions in movement are limiting the space available within the carpal tunnel.
Soft tissue structures such as the muscles and ligaments of the hand and forearm are also addressed with chiropractic care. Tight muscles or fascia in the area can contribute to the limited space for the tendons and nerve to pass through. For example lets think of a chef who uses their forearms to chop ingredients daily. This individual could have a more dominant pull of the flexors of the wrist due to the overuse in their daily activities. working to stretch a short or tightened muscle, such as the wrist flexors could reduce the compression at the carpal tunnel and aid in healing the nerve damage.
Modalities such as electric stimulation, ultrasound or cold laser therapy may be helpful in treating this condition as well. The provider will be sure to use all the tools available that have shown positive impact in treating CTS.
Wrist splinting is helpful to maintain space during the day, and sometimes necessary to wear while sleeping if the individual is prone to sleeping with their wrists curled under and toward themselves, clamping down on the carpal tunnel space. The flexor retinaculum is a structure that you might think of as a ceiling to this tunnel. Surgical release of this structure is the end state of patients suffering from chronic unrelenting carpal tunnel syndrome. Ultimately the goal of chiropractic care is to avoid surgery and regain normal function, but in some cases surgery is necessary and we will be sure to refer you to the proper health care provider if this is the case for you.
It is important to pay attention to the extent of injury carpal tunnel can progress to. If you notice your thumb pad on the affected hand is starting to atrophy, or losing muscle tone, consult a medical professional such as a chiropractor or you primary care physician immediately. Long term damage to this nerve is much more difficult to heal, and sometimes function does not return if the damage is severe and prolonged.
So pay attention to your body and seek consultation if you think you might be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome!
Dr. Allison Fleming and