Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The median nerve attaches just under the last cervical vertebrae in the neck then proceeds across the front of the shoulder underneath the clavicle down the inside of the arm next to the bicep muscles across the inside of the elbow and down the inside of the forearm into the palm, middle finger, pointer finger and thumb. With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome the median nerve gets compressed in the narrow passageway on the palm side of the hand that is encompassed by bones and ligaments. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is also referred to as Medial Nerve Compression. The median nerve is involved in the movement and feeling of the thumb, and the movement of the pointer, middle, and ring fingers.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Pins and needles feeling in fingers
- Pain, burning sensation, or numbness that is worse at night
- Weakness when gripping
- Swollen feeling in fingers
- Electric shock feeling in fingers
- Symptoms may become worse while holding a steering wheel, phone or book, etc.
Due to the compression on the median nerve, over time you may experience slower nerve impulses, less feeling in the fingers, less strength, coordination and a decreased ability to grasp objects using the thumb.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Repetitive small movements with the hands such as typing
- Repetitive grasping movements such as sports or certain professions
- Joint/bone diseases such as arthritis
- Hormonal/metabolic changes such as pregnancy, diabetes, or thyroid imbalances
- Injuries of the wrist such as swelling, inflammation, sprains, dislocations, or fractures
- Family history of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Women are at higher risk due to smaller carpal tunnels in wrists
- Some studies indicate an increased risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with B vitamin deficiency. If you have failed carpal tunnel treatment you may have a B vitamin insufficiency
Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you are starting to experience some symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or would like to take steps to prevent any symptoms from occurring, there are strategies you can take to minimize stress on the hands and wrists. Reduce the force and grip with which you work. Type softly and position the keyboard at elbow height or slightly lower. Make sure the computer mouse is comfortable and doesn’t strain the wrist. Use a light grip if possible when doing repetitive movements. Keep your hands warm, and wear fingerless gloves if needed. Take short frequent breaks. Massage the hands, wrists, forearms, shoulders, and neck. Improve posture, shoulders that are rolled forward shorten the neck and shoulder muscles which can compress nerves in the neck. This affects the wrists, hands, and fingers in addition to causing neck pain.
Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Rest or take frequent breaks.
- Avoid activities that increase symptoms.
- Apply cold packs in the acute phase, post-acute phase applies heat or alternate heat/cold packs.
- Massage therapy, especially on the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands.
- Immobilize the wrist. Wearing a splint will keep the wrist from moving and lessen the pressure on the median nerve. Likewise, wearing a splint at night will help with numbness/tingling. You can find these at most drug stores or pharmacies.
- Chiropractic adjustments/manipulations of the elbow and wrist. Allowing for proper alignment and space within the wrist will decrease irritation and swelling.
- Strengthen and stretch. Nerve gliding exercises may help.
- Anti-inflammatory medications. These may be used short-term and sparingly as NSAIDs slow down the healing process.
- Corticosteroid injections may temporarily help decrease inflammation, and swelling and relieve pressure on the median nerve. However, these must be used sparingly as corticosteroids can damage the connective tissues within the area of injection.
- Homeopathic injections help with inflammation, pain, and degenerative conditions without any significant side effects or damage to connective tissues.
- Prolozone injections increase oxygen to the area, induce regenerative properties, stimulate the healing process and reduce inflammation and pain. Again, without any significant side effects or damage to connective tissues.
- Check for B vitamin deficiency. Studies have shown a link between B6 vitamin insufficiency and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- If you have exhausted all other options surgery may be needed. The goal of surgery is to relieve pressure from the median nerve and create more space for the nerve to move freely. Risks in involved with surgery include: incomplete release of the ligament putting pressure on the median nerve, wound infection, scar formation causing further restriction, and injury to nerves or blood vessels.
Contact us today at Alta Mountain Chiropractic (801-523-2582) if you need help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Dr. Nathan Eldredge can evaluate your situation and make recommendations accordingly. Whether that be chiropractic adjustments or manipulations, order labs for you or provide injections to help you start feeling better.