Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Overview

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the wrist, becomes compressed by fluid or scar tissue. CTS affects over two million adults in America making it the most common peripheral nerve compression syndrome. The condition affects more women than men and is more prevalent in those who use their hands in a repetitive manner, such as carpenters, pianists, mechanics, rock climbers, and those who work on computers. Although, CTS is classified as a non-inflammatory condition, it is often associated with conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis, hypothyroidism, gout, diabetes, and pregnancy, all of which can cause inflammation.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Early symptoms of CTS include numbness, pain, and tingling in the palm of the hand and the first three fingers. Most often, the pinkie finger is not affected. Although less common, CTS can present with arm, shoulder, and neck pain as well. Symptoms are very important in making the diagnosis of CTS. However, there are specific and low-risk orthopedic tests that can be performed to confirm the diagnosis. Additionally, nerve conduction studies can be used to detect CTS in the very early stages or MRI studies can be performed on patients with atypical symptoms.

Many people affected by CTS will awaken during the night with hand pain and/or numbness. A very important piece of information in making the diagnosis of CTS is whether the pinkie finger is affected. Therefore, if you awaken at night with hand pain and/or numbness, check to see if your little finger is affected. In chronic or severe cases of CTS, paresthesia (aka "pins and needles") may occur with weakening of grip strength caused by degeneration of the muscles at the base of the thumb.

Medical Treatment

Most cases of CTS are treated with lifestyle changes, such as avoiding activities that involve repetitive wrist movement and/or splinting, and medications, such as NSAIDs, diuretics, or prescription oral steroids. Cases of CTS that don't respond to these treatments are treated with injections of corticosteroids right into the carpal tunnel or invasive carpal tunnel surgery. Some patients respond well initially to the medical treatment of CTS, however there is always a degree of risk associated with drugs and surgery. Furthermore, many patients who choose drugs and surgery as CTS treatment end up with the syndrome again down the road.
How We Can Help

It is well known that chiropractors are experts at manipulating and moving the joints between bones of the body. Since small, movable wrist bones help form the carpal tunnel, chiropractic naturally becomes a great option for people suffering from CTS.

Joint manipulation helps break up scar tissue adhesions, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain, which are all factors requiring attention in CTS patients. Additionally, we take specific nutritional approaches with CTS patients, based on reducing inflammatory pressure in the carpal tunnel and relieving pain.