Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) has many symptoms, and they’re usually obvious. Tingling or numbness in the fingers or hand. A sensation that feels like an electric shock. Pain that travels from your wrist up the arm. These symptoms may happen while holding a steering wheel, phone, or magazine, or the sensation may wake you from sleep. Chiropractors can help treat carpal tunnel syndrome and offer ways to minimize how much it affects your life.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
CTS occurs in the median nerve that runs from the hand to the forearm. Pain or numbness happens when the median nerve is compressed in the carpal tunnel, a narrow tunnel at the wrist containing up of bones and nerves, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.
How to Know if You Have CTS
Noticing weakness in handling or controlling objects is an indicator of CTS. Many people also report a weakness in the hand and drop items because the median nerve controls the thumb’s pinching muscles. Unfortunately, numbness or pain may become constant over time.
Research from organizations such as the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons indicates several risk factors can increase the possibility of carpal tunnel syndrome. Although these factors may not directly cause carpal tunnel syndrome, they may increase the risk of irritation or damage to the median nerve.
Risk Factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A wrist fracture or dislocation, or arthritis that deforms the small bones in the wrist, can alter the space within the carpal tunnel and put pressure on the median nerve.
Body Fluid Changes
Fluid retention may increase the pressure within the carpal tunnel, irritating the median nerve. and is common during pregnancy and menopause. CTS associated with pregnancy generally gets better on its own after pregnancy.
Rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions with an inflammatory component can affect the lining around the tendons in your wrist and put pressure on the median nerve.
Some studies show a link between carpal tunnel syndrome and the use of anastrozole (Arimidex), a drug used to treat breast cancer.
Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of nerve damage, including damage to the median nerve.
Obesity is a known risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is generally more common in women, which may be because the carpal tunnel area is relatively smaller in women than in men. Also, women who have CTS may have smaller carpal tunnels than women who don’t have the condition.
Working with vibrating tools or work actions requiring prolonged or repetitive wrist flexing may create pressure on the median nerve. If the work is done in a cold environment, existing nerve damage can worsen.
How to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are no one-size-fits-all strategies to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. There are ways to minimize stress on the hands and wrists. Here are six methods you can try:
When to See Your Doctor of Chiropractic
If these methods are not enough, remember that a doctor of chiropractic – a specialist in neuromusculoskeletal conditions – can provide solutions, too. A chiropractor will perform a comprehensive examination of the hands, arms, shoulders, and neck to determine if the symptoms are connected to daily activities or an underlying disorder.
Chiropractors also evaluate overall spinal health, look at medical history, and review daily routines. For doctors of chiropractic, the goal is to relieve pain and optimize health without medication or surgery.
After an initial assessment, a chiropractor’s recommended therapy might include:
If you are feeling the symptoms of CTS, don’t wait for them to get worse. Consider making an appointment with a doctor of chiropractic for a highly personalized solution.
CUKC Chiropractic Health Center
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), founded in 1922, is a private, nonprofit, chiropractic and health science-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. The CUKC on-campus Chiropractic Health Center is open to the public and treats patients from Kansas City’s 15-county metro area. Our goal is to provide care and solutions for a better, more productive life for our patients.