Is hand pain and carpal tunnel syndrome running your life?
Carpus is a word derived from the Greek word karpos, which means “wrist.” The wrist is covered by a strong fibrous band of tissue, called the transverse carpal ligament, which creates the top of the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is a boney trough that is capped by the fibrous band and contains nine tendons and a nerve, which are each covered in two layers of synovium. Under normal circumstances, these flexor tendons and nerve slide through the small carpal tunnel as you move your wrist and hand, but if the area inside the tunnel gets reduced either by adhesions or inflammation, a condition called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome results.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or CTS, is a condition brought on by swelling and pressure inside the carpal tunnel. Since there is no room in the narrow tunnel for the tissues to expand, causing swelling of the tendons or the synovium around them compresses the median nerve.
What are symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
CTS is a commonly misdiagnosed conditions today because it is easy to misinterpret the following symptoms:
• Pain, frequent tingling, or numbness in the fingers that can disturb sleep
• Cramping in the hand or wrist
• Feeling of fingers being swollen, although there is no swelling
• Weakness, with difficulty making a fist or squeezing objects in the hand
• Symptoms of CTS may be variable and are often felt in the thumb, index, middle, and part of the ring finger.
The last one is the most commonly overlooked piece, although CTS can sometimes include the whole middle finger and part of the ring finger it really depends on how the individuals’ neurology is wired. The palm or little finger will not be involved. The symptoms are usually worse at night, and individuals with CTS may find themselves shaking their hand to relieve the symptoms. In time, the tingling is replaced by pain which can be felt as far up as the elbow and eventually leads to numbness in the first three fingers.i
These symptoms are not to be taken lightly because prolonged pressure on the nerve can lead to permanent damage. There is a possibility in some cases that the pain will go away on its own. However, in most cases, the longer you wait to seek treatment, the more chronic the condition becomes, making it more difficult to achieve your desired results.
What as actually causing this hand pain?
There are many potential causes when dealing with hand pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. The bottom line is we need to figure out what is causing the inflammation of the tendons that is causing pressure to be placed on the median nerve.
The most likely cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is an overuse syndrome. Repetitive motions can cause inflammation in the tendons that are sliding through the carpal tunnel. “Intermittent mechanical agitation from longitudinal sliding of a nerve trunk across an irritant is a major factor in the production of inflammatory changes.” So doing simple job tasks or hobbies that require a lot of repetitive, forceful, and or awkward stressed motions of one’s wrist or hands can cause inflammation in the tendons and nerve. Some examples include using hand tools that require gripping and twisting, vibrating power tools, assembly line work, prolonged periods typing in poor position, repetitive office tasks, or playing an instrument.
Trauma to the area is a second cause of CTS. Getting hit by an object such as a baseball, falling on an outstretched hand, or the trauma of holding the steering wheel in an auto accident, are potential scenarios that would cause an impact to this area.
Another common cause of CTS is misalignment of the carpal bones.
Other health conditions can increase the likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome. Examples include rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, some hormonal disorders such as diabetes, fluid retention due to pregnancy or otherwise.
Women are three times as likely as men are to develop carpal tunnel syndrome according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed, and lead to adhesions in the fascia and surrounding tissues.
Is the pain I am having really caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Just because someone diagnosed you with carpal tunnel syndrome in Fort Collins does not necessarily mean you have carpal tunnel. Just because you have tingling in the first three fingers does not limit the cause of your pain to the carpal tunnel. Irritation to the nerve anywhere along the pathway from your spinal cord to the fingers can cause these symptoms. It could be a problem with your elbow, shoulder, spinal vertebrae, fascia, or musculature. Only your local knowledgeable health care professional will know. So if you are looking for a new perspective, or second opinion, we would love to have you challenge us.
Treatment Options for hand pain and Carpal Tunnel irritation in Fort Collins
There are many conservative treatment options available for CTS. To begin with, simple lifestyle modifications such as stopping what you are doing when the symptoms are appear. It is the classic line of a doctor, ” If it hurts when you do _______, well then don’t do that.” But seriously if the symptoms begin when typing on the computer, take a break and stretch out your fingers, wrists, and forearms.
Massage and Yoga are good treatments that you can work on yourself. Massaging your forearm and will help to restore some of the function to the muscles whose tendons slide through the carpal tunnel. Yoga can help to stretch and lengthen these same muscles with the proper poses.
Ice massage is another commonly used treatment option. Take a paper cup filled with water and place it in the freezer. Once frozen peel the paper down exposing some of the ice and massage your wrist and forearm until the area becomes numb.
An effective appliance, in some cases would be a night splint. This is a brace that you wear at night that prevents the wrist from bending in awkward positions during sleep, which may be a simple solution to what is causing your irritation.
If pain and discomfort persist after these conservative measures have been exhausted, give us a call at 970.491.9191 or your local qualified health care professional, to implement a proven approach to your sysmptoms. In our office we offer you creative solutions in breaking up the adhesions, either by hand or with the assistance of specially designed tools.
Manual myofascial therapies have helped many of my patient’s progress through their symptoms. Breaking up myofascial adhesions of the muscles, tendons, and nerve of the carpal tunnel, helps these structures to slide appropriately. A few of the techniques that I use that have proven effective are Myofascial Release, ART, Graston, and SASTM.
Mobilizing the bones of the wrist and forearm has been a very compelling treatment option in our office. If one of the carpal bones of the wrist is misaligned or not functioning properly this can also reduce the space of the carpal tunnel. This mobilization is normally performed by a small thrust by hand (adjustment) or activator to correct faulty movement patterns that have developed over time.
Active Exercise therapy is the next step in our dynamic approach. We will teach you a specific stretching and strengthening regimen to help reestablish better functional movement patterns.
Now that you have armed yourself with knowledge you are ready to better address carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. While some of these treatment options for the carpal tunnel are a huge step in dealing with the symptoms, you should really have the condition looked at by someone who really understands the condition and not just the first medical professional you find by searching online. We see astounding results in our office and have helped many people get back to life with this condition and many others. Come experience the Rocky Mountain Chiro Care difference. Call Now 970.491.9191 or contact our office by email to reserve a time to speak with Dr. Ullom.
This article is not written for the purposes of diagnosing, treating, or rehabilitating any condition, symptom, or disease. This information is solely advisory, and should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all health care concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history. We cannot be held responsible for actions you may take without a thorough exam or appropriate referral. If you have any further concerns or questions, please let us know. Please have your condition evaluated by a healthcare professional.
i Evans, Ronald C. Illustrated orthopedic physical assessment 2nd ed. Mosby Inc. 2001 Pp. 404
ii JAMA, September 11, 2002 – Vol 288, No. 10 ii
iii Butler, David S. 2000 Mobilisation of the Nervous System. Churchill Livingstone pp. 65