The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist made up of several bones and ligaments. The nerve which controls sensation and movement in the thumb and first three fingers, called the median nerve, travels through this passageway along with tendons to both the fingers and thumb. If the median nerve becomes pinched or compressed numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the hand occurs. This condition is most commonly diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome.
This condition develops slowly. It usually can first become noticed at night or when you first wake up in the morning. “Pins and needles” is the feeling that most patients compare to their hand or fingers falling asleep. Patients states that shaking or moving of the fingers can help.
As this condition progresses, a weakness in the thumb and first two fingers can be observed. It may be difficult to make a fist or grasp objects. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause a feeling of numbness in the hands or they may have trouble distinguishing between hot and cold temperatures.
There are some conditions that can mimic carpal tunnel syndrome, these include: injury to a muscle or ligament, arthritis in the thumb and wrist, and degeneration and nerve irritation at the roots of the brachial plexus (C5 to T1). To properly diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome a patient must undergo a nerve conduction study or an electromyography.
Often times the diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome fails to include a proper evaluation of the cervical spine, which is often involved. Chiropractors will fully evaluate the spine to determine if it is involved with the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and should it be involved can provide tremendous relief when other treatments may be non-responsive.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an excellent example of how chiropractic is not just about neck pain, back pain and headaches. Again pain in the wrist or hands is often times just the final symptom of a long standing problem. Fortunately, this type of degenerative condition is 100% preventable. Through Chiropractic care combined with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle you can keep your spine fit for life.
For Your Health,
Dr. Scott Van Dam