Living with chronic pain causes a lot of issues. Nobody wants to constantly feel limited by the pains in their body, and carpal tunnel syndrome is no exception. Those with carpal tunnel syndrome may find completing simple tasks difficult and therefore struggle with daily life. But what is Carpal Tunnel and how can you treat it? Can your chiropractor help treat carpal tunnel, and how?
There are many ways to treat carpal tunnel, but let’s break it down first.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a rather common condition, especially for those who frequently use their hands, such as secretaries or writers. Carpal Tunnel causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand as well as the forearm.
The condition is a product of nerve compression. When the median nerve, which is a major nerve, becomes compressed or squeezed as it travels through the wrist, Carpal Tunnel may occur. For many patients, the syndrome will get worse over time, especially if nothing is done to treat the condition or prevent the compression from continuing.
Untreated Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can lead to permanent dysfunction in the hand. This may include loss of finger sensation, weakness, and other serious complications. It’s recommended that Carpal Tunnel be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to prevent further issues.
There are many symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, some of these include:
- Pain in the arm and hand
- Numbness in the fingers
- Prickly sensation or tingling in the hand and arm
- Pain in the hand and/or arm
- Weakness in the hand/and or arm
- Light swelling in the joints, specifically in the hand
While Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is preventable and treatable, it’s often debilitating, making tasks in your life harder to complete without pain and discomfort. Many people try to treat their Carpal Tunnel with over-the-counter medications. These medications may help lower the pain levels associated with the syndrome but only serve to mask the issue. Many people also try to treat the syndrome in other ways, such as:
- Wearing a wrist splint, especially while sleeping
- Completing exercises that help free the nerve and keep it mobile
- Avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms
- Getting painful steroid injections
- Getting painful surgery
While there are many treatments for Carpal Tunnel, many of them only help mask symptoms. Other treatments, such as steroid injections, tend to be painful and can take up plenty of time from your busy day since a doctor must administer these injections. Some patients even opt for invasive and painful surgeries in an attempt to cure the issue.
But did you know that your chiropractor may be able to help treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as well?
Chiropractic Care for Carpal Tunnel
The carpal tunnel is a narrow space in the wrist, sort of like a thin passageway. It’s about an inch wide, and the floor and sides of the tunnel are formed by small wrist bones. These bones are called carpal bones. On the roof of this tunnel is a strong band of connective tissue. This tissue is called the transverse carpal ligament. These boundaries are rigid, and the carpal tunnel has little capacity to stretch because of it.
The median nerve is one of the main nerves that run through the hand. This nerve originates from a group of nerves in the neck, which come together to form a single nerve within the arm. The median nerve will travel down the upper arm and across the elbow, to the forearm, and then through the carpal tunnel through to the hand and fingers. This nerve will separate into smaller nerves near the hand, allowing for different movements. There are also other ligaments that exist within the same space.
When the tunnel becomes narrowed or when the tissue surrounding the flexor tendons swells put pressure on the median nerve, blood supply is reduced, and the abnormal pressure can cause the syndrome to occur. While anyone can get the syndrome, women tend to be at a greater risk.
Because this syndrome starts with a nerve branch that is located in the neck, it only makes sense that your chiropractor should be able to help treat your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A chiropractor is able to diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which can often be difficult to do. Your chiropractor is actually more qualified to diagnose the syndrome due to the fact that they have expertise in nerve entrapment syndromes, such as Carpal Tunnel.
Your chiropractor, like Dr. Ranieri in our Fort Lauderdale office, will go over your symptoms and will help lightly test the affected arm and hand. Should your chiropractor decide that you indeed have the syndrome, they’ll help formulate a treatment plan to help cure and treat your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Your chiropractor will help determine where your syndrome is originating from. They can help determine if problems in your upper spine, or cervical spine, are the cause of your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If this is the case, your chiropractor will focus on alleviating pressure on the nerve. However, if your syndrome is the result of pressure at the carpal tunnel, then your chiropractor may focus on gentle manipulation of your wrist, or even your elbow.
Can a Chiropractor Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are a variety of ways that a chiropractor may help treat your carpal tunnel syndrome, and which methods used depend on where your issue stems from. Common treatments may include gentle massage, cervical spine manipulation, exercise, electrotherapy, deep tissue therapy, and more. Your chiropractor will be able to successfully formulate a treatment plan that is not only effective but also safe and relatively pain-free.
What Does Carpal Tunnel Feel Like?
Everyone is different, and your symptoms may vary. Most people report the syndrome feeling like dull or throbbing pains throughout their fingers, hand, and forearm. They often experience weakness, and difficulty gripping things. Those with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may also find it difficult to move their arm and hand in normal positions.
The syndrome is characterized by pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. These symptoms can be in conjunction or can be separate. They may appear in groups or may not appear at all. Most people experience pain in the wrist, fingertips, and even their elbow as well. The pain and discomfort felt due to the syndrome often make daily tasks difficult.
If you suspect you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, be sure to contact your doctor and your chiropractor as soon as possible, as early intervention is crucial to avoid more serious issues later.
Home Remedies For CTS
While chiropractic care is the most effective and least invasive form of treatment for CTS, there are other treatments that may help. Home remedies are something to consider, as they provide care without any major risks. Finding safe alternatives is important, especially when so many pharmaceutical treatments are dangerous. Some home remedies for CTS include:
- Heating pad use on the wrist and painful areas
- OTC medications like Tylenol
- Regular physical therapy moves, such as light stretching
- Regular Yoga practice to help the nerves in your body
- Frequent breaks when typing and sitting for excessive amounts of time
- More exercise to help stay in shape and less swollen
- Herbs and oils, such as turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, and more
There are plenty of at-home treatments, and they should be considered. If you’re unsure about which treatments may be right for you, consider asking your chiropractor or doctor for tips on which may work best for you.
There are many ways that your chiropractor can help treat CTS. From spinal manipulation to massage, your chiropractor has the tools needed to diagnose and treat CTS effectively. Nobody should have to live their life in pain, and nobody should have to opt for surgery when there are other options. Chiropractic care is safe and effective for most adults. If you believe that you may be suffering from CTS, contact a chiropractor today. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you’ll feel better.