Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Signs and Symptoms
Burning, numbness, or tingling, similar to the feeling of the hand "falling asleep." Pain is often felt in the thumb, index, and/or middle finger. Symptoms are typically worse at night, and as the condition worsens, weakness and inability to make a fist eventually occurs.
CTS is highly related to occupations that require repetitive use of the hands, arms, and/or neck. Factory operators, fabricators, laborers, technical support, and administrative assistants are among the most common professions effected most by CTS.
The Medical Approach
The medical treatment of CTS depends upon the underlying cause of the condition. For causes related to mechanical overuse of the hands and neck, wrist splints and immobilization techniques are often recommended. The surgical procedure to release the pressure of the
carpal tunnel is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States. Fully recovery from the surgery can take months and risks include permanent nerve damage, increased stiffness and a loss of strength.
Additional treatment methods include corticosteroids injections, or diuretic pills to decrease swelling. Side effects of prolonged steroid use can, unfortunately, include swelling which may increase symptoms.
The Non-Medical Approach
The non-medical approach to treating carpal tunnel is largely related to the stretching and relaxation of the the wrist musculature. Stretching exercises, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and yoga have been implemented to help improve grip strength and decrease symptoms associated with CTS.
The Chiropractic Approach
CTS is generally considered a disease of the wrist, and often times, the neck is overlooked as a potential cause of symptoms. Chiropractic adjustments to the upper spine and neck and possibly to the wrist and elbow can be employed to reduce pressure from the affected median nerve at several impingement points.