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Can Chiropractic care help Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

August 5th, 2022 by
Category: Dr. Anu Premasuriya Nerve Pain

close up of female clutching wrist

Carpal Tunnel is the most common upper extremity entrapment neuropathy and is due to the compression of the median nerve which travels from the neck to the wrist through the Carpal Tunnel. This compression causes tingling and pain in the hands.

Carpal Tunnel impacts around 3% of the population. It is more common in females. (1)  It is unsure as to why that may be the case, though common theories include smaller wrists and hormonal changes. 

Common causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Common causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:

  • Frequent and repetitive movement of the hands such as typing or grasping 
  • Other systemic conditions such as joint/bone disease, hormonal imbalance, and metabolic dysfunction. 
  • Injuries to the wrists 
  • Family history of Carpal Tunnel

Common Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

Common symptoms include pain and sensation changes in the hands. Sensation changes include numbness and tingling. There may be weakness with grip strength and the fingers may feel swollen.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?

Carpal Tunnel is diagnosed through an in-depth history and a physical exam. There may be additional testing such as imaging if required.

Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome go away on its own?

Carpal Tunnel is unlikely to go away without being treated if the patient’s symptoms have already started.  If left untreated, the symptoms may increase leading to weakness, instability, and permanent nerve damage. 

How can you avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Even though there are no proven methods to avoid Carpal Tunnel, there are ways to minimize the pain, including: 

  1. Posture: Posture plays a massive role in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you have bad posture with shoulders rolled in and neck forward, the nerves in your neck are compressed due to the shortening of the muscles in the neck and shoulders. 
  2. Take breaks: It is important to take breaks in between especially if you spend a lot of time at the computer or if you use heavy vibrating machinery. 
  3. If you bend your wrists forwards/backward regularly or operate vibrating tools, consider strengthening exercises for the wrists
  4. Monitor and be aware if you do have conditions that predispose you to Carpal Tunnel syndrome. 

How may Chiropractic care help Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has musculoskeletal factors that Chiropractors may be able to help manage.

Chiropractic care is a non-surgical and more conservative method of care. Chiropractic care mostly focuses on the neck and spine which can contribute to Carpal Tunnel. However, a Chiropractor may use mobilization and adjustments of the hand, wrist and elbow to further ease the pain. A misaligned joint puts tension on the nerves and adjustments can ease the pressure. Furthermore, a Chiropractor will look at your complete alignment to diagnose your postural dysfunctions as well as compensatory mechanisms that may be playing into the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

When may a Chiropractor refer you onto another specialist?

The Chiropractor will thoroughly assess your condition and will refer you to a specialist if conservative care provides no results, or symptoms drastically increase.

Top tips from a Chiropractor that may help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  1. Get assessed by your local Chiropractor. Your Chiropractor will be able to recommend treatment best suited for your condition, as well as strengthening exercises.
  2. Be mindful of your posture. It only takes 20 minutes for our bodies to creep back into its pre-programmed hunched-over position. Set a timer on your phone so that you can keep checking yourself.
  3. Take note of what triggers the symptoms and consider alternatives or breaks. If you cannot eliminate your trigger then try to work around it.

Carpal Tunnel is an upper entrapment neuropathy that causes pain and sensation changes in the wrists and hand. This is due to the compression of the median nerve that travels through the wrist. If left untreated the symptoms may increase and cause permanent nerve damage. A Chiropractor can approach the condition in a conservative manner with adjustments of the joints and mobilisations before referring out if required.

Sources

(1) Atroshi I, Gummesson C, Johnsson R, Ornstein E, Ranstam J, Rosén I. Prevalence of Carpal Tunnel syndrome in a general population. JAMA. 1999;282(2):153-158.

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