Happy St Pats everyone.I recently asked one of my favorite people what would she subject she like to know more about for wellness wednesday and her answer was ” Carpal Tunnel”. As Chiropractors we are seeing more and more problems due to computer/ phone use. The problems range from neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, mid-back pain and of course pain in the wrist. It is so important that you ensure your workspace both in the office and at home is set up ergonomically. You should also plan to stretch well every 1 to 2 hours. Not doing so will result in problems down the road. If you need help with this please do not hesitate to contact us. Today we going to focus on one cause of pain in the wrist known as carpal tunnel syndrome.Last but not least … St Patrick’s day could be about celebrating with more green food??? I can hope?Dr Pia
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?By Dr Pia Martin DC CCNCarpus is a word derived from the Greek word “karpos” which means “wrist.” The wrist is surrounded by a band of fibrous tissue that normally functions as a support for the joint. The tight space between this fibrous band and the wrist bone is called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel to receive sensations from the thumb, index, and middle fingers of the hand. Any condition that causes swelling or a change in position of the tissue within the carpal tunnel can squeeze and irritate the median nerve. Irritation of the median nerve in this manner causes tingling and numbness of the thumb, index, and the middle fingers, a condition known as “carpal tunnel syndrome.”What conditions and diseases cause carpal tunnel syndrome?Tendon inflammation resulting from repetitive work, such as uninterrupted typing on a computer is a common cause of carpal tunnel symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive maneuvers has been referred to as one of the repetitive stress injuries. Other conditions that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome include obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes and trauma.How does a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome feel?Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome initially feel numbness and tingling of the hand in the distribution of the median nerve (the thumb, index, middle, and part of the fourth fingers). These sensations are often more pronounced at night and can awaken patients from sleep. The reason symptoms are worse at night may be related to the flexed-wrist sleeping position and/or fluid accumulating around the wrist and hand while lying flat.As the disease progresses, patients can develop a burning sensation, cramping and weakness of the hand. Decreased grip strength can lead to frequent dropping of objects from the hand. Occasionally, sharp shooting pains can be felt in the forearm.How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?The diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome is suspected based on the symptoms and the distribution of the hand numbness. Examination of the neck, shoulder, elbow, pulses, and reflexes can be performed to exclude other conditions that can mimic carpal tunnel syndrome. The wrist can be examined for swelling, warmth, tenderness, deformity, and discoloration. Sometimes tapping the front of the wrist can reproduce tingling of the hand, and is referred to as Tinel’s sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. The examiner can also at times reproduce symptoms by bending the wrist forward (referred to as Phalen’s maneuver). X-Rays of the hand may be helpful.How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?
The choice of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms and any underlying disease that might be causing the symptoms.In most cases, a chiropractic adjustment to the affected area is an extremely effective solution. In some cases, a misalignment in either the back or neck can cause this condition. These treatments, along with physical therapy, stretching, and strengthening exercises, can in most cases effectively alleviate and eventually eliminate the symptoms associated with CTS.Patients whose occupations are aggravating the symptoms should modify their activities. For example, computer keyboards and chair height may need to be adjusted to optimize comfort. These measures, as well as periodic resting and range of motion stretching exercise of the wrists can actually prevent the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that are caused by repetitive overuse.Several types of medications have been used in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) has been reported to relieve some symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also be helpful in decreasing inflammation and reducing pain. Side effects include gastrointestinal upset and even ulceration of the stomach. Corticosteroids can be given by mouth or injected directly into the involved wrist joint. They can bring rapid relief of the persistent symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Side effects of these medications should be considered. Surgery involves severing the band of tissue around the wrist to reduce pressure on the median nerve. This surgical procedure is called “carpal tunnel release.”Dr Pia Martin DC CCN