Do you suffer with pain, numbness, or tingling in the palmar surface of your thumb, index and middle finger?
Do you feel it worse at night?
Do you experience general clumsiness of your hand, or difficulty in gripping with your thumb and index finger?
Then you may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
You probably think it’s strange for a chiropractor to be writing about carpal tunnel syndrome, as you think they “only deal with the spine”. In my extensive training to become a doctor of chiropractic we become specialists in treating musculoskeletal problems of the spine as well as the extremities, which includes shoulders, elbows and wrists, as well as knees, ankles and feet. I am writing this article as I often hear “Oh, I didn’t know chiropractors dealt with wrist pain”, or “I really wish I hadn’t had surgery because there has been very little improvement in my symptoms”.
So what is Carpal Tunnel?
The carpal tunnel is in the base of the wrist and contains tendons from the muscles that allow you to make a fist, and move your thumb. It also contains a nerve, the median nerve, which supplies the skin on the palmar surface of your thumb, index and middle fingers.
What can cause Carpal Tunnel?
- Trauma to the wrist (can be a minor, more serious, recent or even an old injury).
- Repetitive movements of the wrist, commonly seen in carpenters/builders, massage therapists.
- Other factors that may have to do with fluid retention, as in pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes and hypothyroidism.
- Ganglions and benign tumours of the wrist (lipofibroma or neuroma).
- Patients deficient in B-vitamins may be predisposed.
- Working at a computer and using a keyboard does not cause carpal tunnel syndrome, however, there is still some question if using a mouse can be a contributing factor.
As can be seen from the list of potential causes, a careful and detailed history and examination should be undertaken to establish the cause.
How can Carpal Tunnel be managed?
- Get the right diagnosis first! If you and your practitioner suspect that the problem is more than just a repetitive overuse injury, get the relevant blood tests and X-rays done.
- Just because your symptoms are in your wrist, other causes, like a disc bulge in your neck, can cause similar symptoms and need to be ruled out.
- Change the activity causing and/or aggravating the symptoms where possible.
- Reduce inflammation and pain, by using massage, stretching, acupuncture, contrast therapy.
- Bracing the wrist is controversial and depending on what you read you’ll find varying opinions with regards bracing.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be a very complex, so treatment is often multi-modal and while I am not able to cover everything in this article, if you are interested in finding out more, please get in contact with us at Pure Healthcare to set up an appointment where you will be thoroughly assessed and given a treatment plan to get you pain free again. Your treatment will be approached on several levels. It is not simply a case of we’ll massage and adjust the wrist. Your entire arm as well as neck and upper back will be looked at for possible biomechanical faults, and correcting these will yield a far more favourable and long term solution. Finally strengthening and retraining will be included to help prevent this from happening again.
Stop suffering with clumsiness, pain, numbness or tingling in your wrist and give our team at Pure Healthcare a call to set up an appointment with me, Dr Jason Berry.