Our hands are constantly moving! Whether we are typing on our laptops, keying on our smart phones, pressing the remote control keys, riding a bike, driving a automobile, writing with a pen or grabbing the refrigerator door, the wrist and fingers are in constant use! Few other mechanisms in the body are used as often as this combination of muscles, bones and tendons, yet we know so little about how to care for the inner workings of our hands. We should be vigilant in protecting ourselves from injuring these valuable parts of our bodies. One of the most common injuries to affecting our digits lurks, and it will affect many of us later in life, if it has not already done so.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Defined
In the hand, there is a nerve, called the median nerve; this nerve runs down your forearm. Directing the nerve into your hand is the carpal tunnel, a channel like construction of tissue and small bone. If the tunnel contracts, either from overuse of the fingers or any other medical condition (such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, inflammatory arthritis, etc.), the median nerve is compressed, resulting in:
Shooting pains down the fingers
Burning pains in the wrists and in the fingers
Soreness and shooting pains in the forearms and wrists
Numbness and weakness in the fingers
Possible tingling up and down the wrist area
This weakening of the hands makes everyday actions a frustrating challenge.
If you relate to any of the symptoms listed above, check with your primary care physician for further information. A simple physical examination is generally all that is required to determine the origin of the condition and what treatments to follow. This examination includes applying pressure to the median nerve through the use of an inflatable cuff or, another popular method, of applying pressure with the thumbs to the carpal tunnel itself and indirectly pressuring the median nerve. If the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a result of a more complicated underlying condition, then your specialist may perform more tests to determine the best mode of recovery.
Prevention and Treatment
The good news is, carpal tunnel syndrome can be prevented. According to the American Chiropractic Association, performing light exercises and stretching during the day combined with well-maintained posture as well as regular rest sessions can prevent the onset of the condition. However, if CTS has already set in, the list of options narrows but there are treatments available to help mitigate its effects on the daily life of the victim and progression of the syndrome.
As with other injuries, healing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be eradicated by avoiding activities which may aggravate the CTS, along with rest and the application of a splint for wrist support. Physical therapy may be prescribed as well. In cases such as these, a chiropractic doctor is of great use. Through the regular massaging of the wrist area, hand and the forearm, the practitioner release the built up tension, relaxing the carpal tunnel and relieving pressure on the nerve. At times, adjustment may be combined with an regimen of acupuncture treatment, which may assist with both reduction in inflammation as well as with pain management. As is often the case, strength training exercises will be given to the patient to practice at home, so as to continue relief in between appointments.
There will be times when the Carpal tunnel Syndrome is too far advanced for physical therapy. In these cases, surgery may be required. As always, consult with your physician to determine which procedure is best for you. Come see us, we want to help!