More than 8 million people are affected by carpal tunnel syndrome every year, and it can slam the breaks on your life. But with the steady hands of a chiropractor, the pain and suffering this syndrome can cause might be eased away under their skilled hands.
Hello everyone, Dr. Bob here! Today we are going to be discussing something that many of you have suffered from or might suffer from in the future. That is carpal tunnel. Let me start by asking you a question. How many of you suffer from pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands or fingers? Surprisingly, a lot of people fall into this category. If you have these symptoms, you might have carpal tunnel syndrome. We are going to talk about carpal tunnel syndrome, what it is, how to diagnose it, and how to treat it. Hopefully, the option is to treat it without surgery, but sometimes surgery is required.
The carpal tunnel is located in your wrist. The carpal or wrist bones form a tunnel through which the median nerve runs and supplies the thumb, index, and middle finger. If you have pain, numbness, or tingling in those three fingers or in that particular part of your wrist where the median nerve goes through that tunnel, you might have carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have pain throughout your hand or in your other fingers then you probably don't have it. But there are likely other issues involved. What happens in carpal tunnel syndrome, due to repetitive movement of the hands, the bones tend to drop and shift so that the tunnel of the carpal bones gets smaller. When that tunnel gets smaller, it can start putting pressure on that median nerve. This pressure can cause numbness, tingling, pain, etc in those three main fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed usually with a nerve conduction study. They hook you up to electrodes and run current through the nerves that run down your arms. It's not a pleasant experience; it can be a little painful. The nerve conduction studies have gotten a lot better over the years, so they can exactly identify where a nerve is being pinched or blocked, and diagnose how to fix it properly. If it turns out that it is true carpal tunnel, it will then be graded in terms of mild, moderate, or severe. Usually, in severe or moderate cases, they will opt to do surgery. The surgery helps release tendons in that area of the carpal tunnel and will help expand the tunnel and take away the pain. In my personal experience, over the last twenty years as a chiropractor, it seems to me that the technology for these kinds of surgeries has gotten better and the treatment has gotten better, so the surgery is often very effective. There are several different kinds of surgeries depending on how severe a particular case might be. Some are more invasive than others; those being more invasive will take longer to heal and might keep you out of work a little longer than expected.
However, if you don't have true carpal tunnel syndrome but you have pain in similar areas, or even if you have mild or moderate Carpal Tunnel pain, in some cases chiropractic care will help. How does this work? Well, as you know, chiropractors adjust the spinal bones. But we also adjust any joints and bones in the body, and there happen to be many joints and bones in your hands. Sometimes, the median nerve is being irritated just because one of the carpal bones is out of alignment. So, a chiropractor can go in, realign and adjust those carpal bones, and thus open up the tunnel and help with those symptoms.
If you've had your nerve conduction study and the pain, pinching, or blocking isn't coming from true carpal tunnel, then it is usually coming from the elbow, lower neck, or upper back. It is more commonly coming from the upper back because the branches of the nerves found there go down your arm and into your hand and branch off to feed the median nerve. So, you always want to check before you have surgery whether or not the blockage is actually in your neck or the carpal tunnel. If it turns out the blockage is in your neck and you have carpal tunnel surgery, it's not going to be successful. Chiropractic care can help a lot with adjusting the upper back and lower neck with any kind of pain, numbness or tingling in your upper arm, forearm, and fingers. We have seen a lot of this kind of pain recently, and patients are responding very well to chiropractic care in these cases.
So, that is the real summary of carpal tunnel syndrome. You always want to try and look at the least invasive way of getting it taken care of. Chiropractic care does fit the bill in many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. I hope that helps! Till next time, take care!
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