Can chiropractors help with carpal tunnel syndrome?
I have totally lost count of the number of times a patient has self-diagnosed themselves with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
“My friend says I’ve got Carpal Tunnel!” is a remark often made by anyone who has some sort of ache and tingling in the hand or wrist. CTS is without doubt a common disorder, but not as common as some might think.
First of all, before addressing how chiropractors deal with CTS, let’s briefly discuss what it is. CTS is ‘simply’ a nerve compression disorder in the carpal tunnel of the wrist. The hand itself is provided with a series of blood vessels, nerves, muscles and tendons. The wrist is made up of rows of bones (called the carpal bones) which form a curved arch. This arch is reinforced by surrounding ligaments which form a narrow canal; this canal is called the carpal tunnel. A nerve, called the median nerve, passes through this arch alongside blood vessels and muscle tendons. Due to the crowded nature of the carpal tunnel, anything that reduces this space can irritate the structures inside it. If the median nerve is irritated, a true CTS is created.
Patients who complain of wrist or hand pain first need to be assessed properly. Chiropractors, are musculo-skeletal experts and will spend time to take a case history and carry out a physical examination to reach a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made and should chiropractic treatment be appropriate for the patient, a treatment plan will be drawn up. If chiropractic treatment is not appropriate, the patient will be referred for further investigation.
Most causes of CTS are easy to define – poor hand positioning or repetitive strain injuries (e.g. from typing), but other causes are possible. Fluid retention (as a result of pregnancy) can be a cause of CTS as can certain types of arthritis. A commonly overlooked area for CTS is that sometimes the source actually stems from the neck!
Whatever the cause, our chiropractors are well trained to deal with it. CTS is one of the most common conditions to be treated by surgery nowadays. Yet, in many cases an operation can be delayed or even avoided through a course of ‘hands-on’ chiropractic treatment.
Our chiropractors provide a very high standard of treatment using a variety of techniques, including chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture and soft tissue therapy to improve CTS, thus preventing the need to go ‘under the knife’.
For further information on Chiropractic treatment visit: https://chiropractic-uk.co.uk/chiropractic-care/
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a very common joint disease. It is characterized by stiffness, pain and sometimes swelling around the affected joint. It is also referred to as “wear and tear” or degenerative joint disease.
Like most non life-threatening conditions it is mainly treated by “tea and sympathy”. If it becomes too painful and disabling your GP will be very likely to give you pain killers (eg: Paracetamol, Co-codamol) and anti-inflammatory drugs (eg: Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Celecoxib). To alleviate pain and improve function physiotherapists and chiropractors use physical therapy.
But how does one become osteoarthritic? Well, if you are not a vegetarian and pay a visit to your family butcher you may have noticed that, where the bones meet to form a joint, bone extremities are white, shiny and very smooth. This represents the cartilage, which provides a rubbery, lubricated cushion. Cartilage allows the two bones to glide easily with one another during joint movement.
In individuals with OA, the cartilage gradually wears away with the result that, over time, the two bones start “rubbing” against each other. This in turn will gradually cause pain, stiffness and sometimes swelling around the joint. OA commonly affects the fingers, knees, hips and spine. Although OA has a higher incidence in an older population, it still can affect younger people by trauma or overuse of a joint (e.g in athletes).
In order to establish whether a patient is suffering from OA a thorough medical history and an in depth physical examination needs to be performed. Plain X-rays films, to confirm the diagnosis and to assess the extent of OA, may also be required.
Once the chiropractor has ruled out other possibilities for the pain and the disability and a diagnosis of osteoarthritis has been confirmed a treatment plan can be drawn. In addition to a programme of pure joint and muscle rehabilitation patient suffering from OA may be advised to modify their lifestyle, as exercise and diet are important factors in the treatment of OA.
Unfortunately, most sufferers consult only once they have lost a substantial amount of joint mobility and muscle power. Chiropractors and physiotherapists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis. If you think you suffer from joint “wear and tear” why not consult one?
Additional information can be found:
Pain is usually the reason why most patients consult a chiropractor.
The practitioner’s task is to try to determine the source of the pain so that it may be addressed effectively. Once any serious underlying pathology such as bone damage, tumours and infection has been ruled out, we are left with pain of a mechanical origin. It is then important to consider the onset of the pain, which everybody likes to be able to associate with a particular cause.
When the onset of the pain is sudden, as often happens after lifting or bending awkwardly, twisting suddenly or making a jarring movement, it is reassuring for the patient to be able to attribute the cause to a specific event. “I did something foolish”, “I know I should not have done that” are the types of comments we hear regularly.
“The pain came from nowhere”,
“It came out the blue”,
“I was fine when I went to bed and the following morning it was so painful that I could not get my head off the pillow”
However, although the onset can still appear to be sudden, there may be no particular event, which can be identified as a possible trigger. In these cases the patient often feels let down by his/her body. “The pain came from nowhere”, “it came out the blue”, “I was fine when I went to bed and the following morning it was so painful that I could not get my head off the pillow” are the comments we hear.
This impression that the pain has appeared “from nowhere” occurs because the process has been developing well before we become aware of it. In addition to this gradual build-up of a problem, the culmination comes when some minor, trivial activity (eg lying in bed) acts as a trigger. The British describe it as ‘the last straw that breaks the camel’s back’ and the French, ‘the last drop that makes the vase overflow’ and this is exactly what occurs.
What happens is that long before we’re aware of the severe pain, most of us suffer from all sorts of periods of mild discomfort and stiffness caused by general ‘wear and tear’. All this takes a gradual toll on our joints and their supportive structures. Add to that a lifestyle of poor posture at work, long hours of driving, slouching on the sofa in front of the television and you have the perfect recipe for an acute episode of neck, mid back or low back pain one day.
But, you will say, what steps could I take to avoid reaching the acute stage? Our advice would be to monitor your health and keep your body working as smoothly as possible. Think about your car, do you keep it regularly serviced, or do you wait until you break down in the pouring rain in the middle of nowhere before you call a mechanic?
The analogy may be obvious, but don’t you think your body is just as important as your car? If so, a visit to the chiropractor may save you a lot of trouble and pain further down the road.
For further information, please visit http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/chiropractic-pain-relief#1
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