Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be treated with chiropractic care to reduce the pressure on the nerves that cause pain in the wrist and hand. With conservative care including adjustments and proper posture and workplace ergonomics, surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome can be avoided.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome and what are some of the common causes of it?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition which affects the median nerve, which is a nerve that runs the length of our arm, and when that nerve is under stress, it causes pain, typically numbness and tingling and/or weakness in the wrist and the hand. Common causes are poor posture which apply pressure to the nerve kind of in the back of our neck and our shoulders, or repetitive motions such as typing which causes compression of the nerve at the carpal tunnel, a small space between our forearm and our hand.
What symptoms do people experience if they have it and at what point should they have their pain or discomfort examined by a doctor?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Common symptoms begin essentially as pain in the arm, usually a sharp shooting pain into the wrist or the hand, and then this pain can lead into a burning pain, and over time as the condition worsens and becomes more chronic, numbness and tingling. We can even get weakness, loss of function.
Essentially the sooner the better. Conditions like this occur over time, usually with a lot of repetition such as lots of sitting, lots of typing, so the sooner the issue is assessed and treated, the less damage there’s going to be to the joint or the soft tissue, which obviously means for a shorter course of treatment.
How can chiropractic care help treat carpal tunnel syndrome, and what type of treatments are performed and how do they work?
Dr. Luke Stringer: The American Medical Association put out a great study recently that stated around 70% of carpal tunnel syndrome actually originates from the neck. Chiropractic care can reduce stress and tension on the nervous system in the neck because that stress and tension can be causing the pain that travels into our arms, hands, fingers. Usually a typical course of treatment will be involving adjustments and then lots of postural re-education to the cervical spine. Chiropractic is great at restoring the range of motion and the function within the joint. By doing that, you can relieve the stress off the nerve, and then also when we supplement that with lots of postural re-education, we can stabilize that joint, and this offers for fast, effective, and conservative treatment.
Some people get surgery to fix their carpal tunnel syndrome. Is it possible to avoid surgery and completely heal with noninvasive chiropractic treatments and therapy?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. Surgery should always be the person’s last resort, as we’re always going to have that option, but once the surgery has been performed, you really can’t go back from that. The stats of the patient outcomes from surgery particularly for this procedure are usually pretty average, so we always stress conservative care first. Again, if that doesn’t work, we always have the invasive option.
I would always start by evaluating the integrity of the cervical spine. Do you have good posture? Is there is no damage to your discs? Is the soft tissue in your neck good enough to move through full range of motion? Is it stable and supportive? The same thing in your elbow and your wrist. If one or more of these things are the case, I’d begin with fixing each of them and see how you respond to treatment. Conservative care, especially when done well and addressing those three major areas, good joint function, good range of motion of the soft tissue, and good stabilization and strengthening from those structures, treatment outcomes are always very good.
What type of ongoing treatment, therapy, and exercises are recommended to keep carpal tunnel syndrome from re-occurring?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Regular check-ups with your chiropractor to assess the spine and the nervous system for subluxations, which are essentially joints that shift out of alignment and cause stress and tension onto the body that cause issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, should essentially just be part of our wellness plan. So just make you’re keeping up with good habits at work, such as taking regular breaks, standing up for the last 20 minutes of the hour, using a stand-up desk, and then following through with your own at-home care recommendations too. Just make you’re working on keeping good range of motion within the spine and you’re doing your posture re-education to make sure those structures are nice and stable. Again, we’re built to move. The sedentary lifestyle we’re not built for. Our bodies are super economical, so once we start sitting for a living, all the stabilizing structures don’t need to stabilize, that’s when our spine starts shifting out of alignment and we start seeing lots of issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit www.southloopchiropractor.com or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.