Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition you hear about often. Almost everyone knows at least one person who has had carpal tunnel syndrome. So exactly what is the carpal tunnel?
The carpal tunnel is at the base of the palm. The “tunnel” is formed by bones in the hand and wrist and is covered by a strong ligament. There are 9 tendons and 1 nerve that pass through this tunnel to get from the forearm into the hand. The nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel is the Median Nerve.
The Median Nerve starts at the spinal cord and leaves the cord through spaces between the vertebrae in the neck. From the neck it passes through the shoulder, past the elbow, through the carpal tunnel and then into your fingertips. The Median Nerve can actually be compressed at any point during its long path from the neck to the fingertips. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by compression of the Median Nerve at the wrist within the carpal tunnel. But what causes the tunnel to compress the nerve?
Most often it is due to repetitive strain injuries. These injuries are caused by performing the same action with the hands and wrists again and again. Occupations requiring computer entry, hammering nails or operating a power tool, stressful hand positions, and even running a cash register can lead to repetitive strain injuries. Some sports such as tennis, golf, and skiing can also lead to repetitive strain injuries at the wrist.
Sometimes carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by or made worse by conditions that cause water retention. This means pregnancy, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and thyroid problems can contribute to the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Finally, some have suggested that a deficiency of Vitamin B6 can also contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.
So how do you know if you might have carpal tunnel syndrome? Carpal tunnel syndrome often causes the hand, especially the thumb and the index finger, to feel numb or tingly. Some people experience shooting pain into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause weakness in the hand which makes it difficult to hold onto things. These symptoms are often worse at night because of the way we sleep.
If you have some of these symptoms, there are a few “tests” you can do to yourself at home. Put the backs of your hands together like you are doing an upside-down prayer. Hold this position for up to one minute. If the numbness, tingling, or shooting pain come back this suggests there is a problem with the median nerve. Another test you can do is to make the OK sign with your affected hand. Now use your other hand to try to pull your fingers apart. If you can easily pull your fingers apart, this indicates muscle weakness that may be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you think you might have carpal tunnel syndrome, what should you do? Carpal tunnel syndrome needs to be treated early to get the best results. If left untreated for too long, damage to the median nerve can occur. If you show any of the signs of carpal tunnel syndrome do not hesitate to seek an evaluation from your chiropractor.
Your chiropractor will perform an examination to determine if your symptoms are due to carpal tunnel syndrome. The median nerve begins at the neck and runs through the arm and ends in your fingers. The median nerve can actually be compressed anywhere along its long course from your neck to your fingers. This means an examination of your hand, wrist, forearm, arm, and neck is needed to determine exactly where the nerve is being compressed.
Once your doctor has determined the cause of the problem, treatment can begin. Gentle and specific adjustments to the wrist, elbow, or neck will be used to reduce nerve irritation, restore proper motion, and relieve pain. Your doctor may provide you with at home care instructions such as stretching, icing, or avoiding factors that aggravate your condition.
To determine if chiropractic care could help you relieve your carpal tunnel symptoms, or to speak with a chiropractor in the Edwardsville, IL area, call Dr. Emily Brueggeman at 618-692-0000 . Remember, early treatment is the key to successful treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, so do not hesitate to have your symptoms examined. Ask for a free Invitation to Health which includes a consultation and screening to determine if yours is a chiropractic case.