Whether it’s office work where you’re typing away for hours or construction work where you’re operating large equipment, almost all of us depend on our hands for work.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is extremely common and affects roughly 3-6 percent of all adults in the general population, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. It negatively impacts their ability to perform daily actions that require the use of their hands and arms.
Because carpal tunnel syndrome is so common, many wonder about solutions such as chiropractic treatment for carpal tunnel. This blog will detail the potential causes and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome while recommending the best treatment options.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel is a nerve entrapment syndrome caused by excessive pressure on the median nerve. It manifests due to inflammation that causes swelling in the carpal tunnel of the wrist which can also obstruct blood flow.
The median nerve provides nerve responses to the palm side of the thumb as well as the index, middle, and part of the ring finger. It runs from the forearm through a passageway in the wrist (carpal tunnel) to the hand. This passageway houses the median nerve as well as tendons that allow the fingers to bend.
When the tendons that surround the median nerve become inflamed and swell, they apply pressure that can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Tingling: Likely begins in the hands and travels up the forearm into the shoulder
- Numbness: Typically occurs in the hand
- Pain: Can resonate in the hand and wrist and travel up the arm into the shoulder
- Weakness: Throttling of nerve transmission can make your hand movements clumsy or more difficult to perform
- Shock-like feelings: Moving from your wrist into your fingers
- “Swollen” feeling: Typically occurs in the fingers
Flare-ups often occur as a result of repetitive movements or actions that require the wrist to be bent. A carpal tunnel syndrome flare-up can affect simple tasks such as holding a smartphone, reading a book, typing on a keyboard, and driving a car.
Carpal tunnel symptoms can often start out very light but get progressively worse over time, especially if the condition is left untreated. When untreated, symptoms can develop into severe motor and sensory issues as scar tissue builds up from inflammation, further squeezing the median nerve.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome does not have one specific cause, as it is not an issue with the median nerve itself. Instead, it is caused by a variety of contributing factors that affect the region around the nerve. Some of these factors include:
- Repetitive motions
- Sprains or fractures
- Rheumatoid arthritis
While most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome do not have a singular cause, the most common factor of carpal tunnel syndrome is frequent repetitive movements such as typing on a keyboard or grasping objects.
Identifying Carpal Tunnel
Because the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome are shared with many other conditions, it is commonly misdiagnosed. The best way to identify carpal tunnel is to have a physician perform specific tests such as:
- Phalen’s test: Patients are asked to bend and press the dorsal (back) positions of their hands together and hold the position for 30-60 seconds.
- Tinel sign: This involves tapping the finder along the median nerve to test for tingling or pain.
- Nerve conduction studies: This is a check to see if the media nerve is being blocked.
If you have passed all of these tests without a positive diagnosis of carpal tunnel, it’s very likely that your symptoms are caused by something else.
Forward head posture and spinal misalignment can also cause symptoms that are often associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. For instance, because nerves pass through the neck to connect to the brain, improper forward head posture could be causing neurological dysfunction that leads to similar symptoms.
Likewise, spinal misalignment could compress the discs in your spine or irritate the nerve roots that extend down into your hands and cause symptoms that can be mistaken for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Note: A person can have both a neck nerve issue and carpal tunnel syndrome; this would be termed a double crush syndrome.
It’s important to properly identify the causes of these symptoms so they can be effectively treated. If you are receiving treatment for carpal tunnel and have been misdiagnosed, it’s not likely that you’ll see any improvements.
Chiropractic Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Because chiropractors are experts in nerve entrapment syndromes such as carpal tunnel, they can help to diagnose carpal tunnel or pinpoint specific causes of your symptoms.
If you receive a confirmed diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, there are non-invasive chiropractic treatment options that can help solve symptoms at the root and offer long-term relief such as:
- Wrist adjustments
- Muscle manipulation
- Medial nerve glides
- Wrist flexion stretches
- Wrist extension stretches
- Forearm stretches
Even if you do not receive a positive carpal tunnel diagnosis, chiropractic care can offer an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms (such as cervical alignment, forward head posture, or spinal misalignment) and a treatment plan with long-term alleviation of symptoms.
Identify and Treat the Root of Your Carpal Tunnel Symptoms with Chiropractic BioPhysics®
Treating carpal tunnel symptoms can be difficult due to the commonality of carpal tunnel misdiagnosis. That’s why the team at PostureWorks uses Chiropractic BioPhysics® (CBP) to accurately diagnose the cause of your symptoms and offer effective chiropractic treatment for carpal tunnel.
With CBP, we can assess if your carpal tunnel symptoms are coming from the wrist or other areas such as nerves in the lower neck or back. We use information from the analysis to craft a customized treatment plan that solves the root cause of your symptoms, whether they stem from carpal tunnel syndrome or not.
Contact us today to learn more about chiropractic treatment for carpal tunnel or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, evidence-based, and non-invasive.