Carpal tunnel syndrome is extremely common. It affects 1-5% of the population at any one time and can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as typing, cooking, and exercise. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be quite difficult to treat, but chiropractic care can help.
What is the carpal tunnel?
The carpal tunnel is a passage consisting of nine tendons that runs through the wrist, through which the median nerve runs. The median nerve starts at the top of the arm, goes through the carpal tunnel, and then splits into two sections to reach all of the fingers.
The median nerve controls the movements and feelings in the thumb and fingers, except for the pinky.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
• burning, tingling, itching numbness in palm and thumb or index and middle fingers
• a weakness in the hand and difficulty gripping or holding things
• pins and needles
• tingling that moves up the arm
• weak thumb
• shock-like feelings that move into the fingers
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is also known as median nerve compression. It is caused by irritation or pressure around the nerve, which results in the nerve impulses becoming slower and not being able to reach the hand as efficiently.
This compression can happen for several reasons:
1) Any repetitive motion of the wrist can cause the carpal tunnel to become inflamed, squeezing the median nerve. This can include working with vibrating tools, sports such as rock climbing, and playing video games.
2) Conditions such as obesity, arthritis, hypothyroidism, and diabetes.
3) Pregnancy. The carpal tunnel syndrome usually goes away on its own after pregnancy,
4) Genetic and anatomical factors. Some people naturally have smaller carpal tunnels, making carpal tunnel syndrome more likely.
5) Wrist injuries. Some wrist injuries can affect the carpal tunnel, even after healing.
Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome
The main treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is the use of a wrist splint. This is worn at night and it forces the wrist into a position that does not put pressure on the median nerve, giving it a chance to rest.
Other treatments include:
• painkillers, but these don't treat the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, so the advice is not to rely on them
• limiting the movements that could cause carpal tunnel syndrome
• hand exercises, although there is limited evidence that these work
Can chiropractic care treat carpal tunnel syndrome?
Because carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a problem with the wrist joint, chiropractic care is uniquely situated to treat it. Chiropractic treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome usually consists of adjustments to the cervical spine, elbow, and wrist, using low amplitude, short lever, low force, and high-velocity thrusts (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8046280/).
This treatment can reduce symptoms such as tingling and itching, improve motor coordination, and increase grip strength in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Chiropractic care is an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome and can help patients to avoid the need for invasive surgery.