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’.