01/25/2019 by Dr. Goldi Jacques-Maynes
Chiropractic for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
When you feel pain in your hand, wrist, or forearm, you may begin to worry that you've got carpal tunnel syndrome. Since most of us use computers and devices, it's natural to suspect the pain is from this notorious office-work condition. We do see a lot of carpal tunnel in our office, but it's not always from office work. There are quite a few reasons you may develop carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
What exactly is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition. It comes from compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist at the carpal tunnel. CTS can present in one hand or both hands, depending on your activity.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The main symptoms of CTS are pain, and/or numbness and tingling in the thumb, index finger, middle finger and the thumb side of the ring finger. CTS may also present with symptoms in all five fingers on one hand.
Symptoms typically start gradually. Most people first notice their symptoms at night. Their pain may extend up their arm. They may also notice they have a weak grip.
Who gets carpal tunnel syndrome?
Most people are aware that carpal tunnel syndrome comes from hours spent on a computer. What you may not know is that certain conditions raise your risk of CTS, and that non-computer related activities can cause it.
Certain people are more at risk than others.
People with issues like obesity, repetitive wrist work, pregnancy, and/or rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to get carpal tunnel.
We also see carpal tunnel in new moms and pregnant women.
Moms with new babies and pregnant women often present with carpal tunnel symptoms. Generalized swelling and ligamentous laxity—ligaments that loosen from pregnancy—can lead to carpal tunnel.
Manual labor can also cause carpal tunnel.
Many of the activities involved with physically demanding jobs create carpal tunnel symptoms. Construction workers and “do it yourselfers” tend to perform grasping and pulling motions over and over. They use equipment which creates vibrations. Their hand tools create tension in the wrist and forearm. Anything with high-force hammering, long-term use or extreme wrist motions and vibrations can cause carpal tunnel.
How do chiropractors diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome?
We take a thorough health history and listen to you describe your symptoms. We listen carefully and use an exam to determine if you have CTS or another condition.
How do chiropractors treat carpal tunnel syndrome?
We generally start with a trial of 6 visits, twice a week for three weeks and monitor your progress.
These treatments may include:
Chiropractic adjustments for carpal tunnel
- Adjustments to the carpal bones to restore the normal position and function of your wrist
- Adjustments to the neck and upper back to relieve tension on the spine and the nerves that run to your wrist and hand
Soft tissue therapies for carpal tunnel
- Active release therapy
- Myofascial blading
- Myofascial cupping
Therapeutic exercises for carpal tunnel
We may recommend exercises to help you:
- Mobilize your nerves and tendons
- Strengthen your surrounding muscles
Recommended lifestyle changes for carpal tunnel
- Ergonomic advice for your workstation
- Therapeutic exercise routine
- Warming up before work
- CBD topicals
What can I do at home to help with my carpal tunnel?
If you work on a computer for hours at a time, it's important to position your work station to avoid putting extra strain on your hands, wrists, and arms. Proper ergonomics can go a long way in helping you avoid carpal tunnel.
Stretch the area before going to work.
Imagine you just burned your hand on the stove and shake it vigorously.
Do the wrist flex and extend.
- Hold your arm straight out in front of you, wrist and hand straight, palm of your hand facing down.
- Bend your wrist down so your fingers point toward the floor.
- Use your other hand to increase the stretch, gently pulling the fingers toward your body.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds.
- Return to a straight, neutral wrist with palm facing down.
- Bend your wrist up so your fingertips point toward the ceiling.
- Use your other hand to gently pull your fingers back toward you.
Repeat 10 times. Do this up to three times a day.
Do the prayer and reverse prayer stretch.
Yep, it's just like it sounds. Place your palms together and feel a gentle stretch across your wrists as you gently pull your wrists down.
To reverse the stretch, place the backs of your hands together, fingers pointing up. Notice the gentle stretch as you raise your wrists upwards.
Do hand squeezes for grip strength.
- Squeeze a pair of balled-up socks or a soft rubber ball.
- Hold for 5 seconds.
Repeat 10 times. Do this up to three times a day.
Think you may have carpal tunnel?
Come see us in Aptos. Make your appointment and get a proper diagnosis. Once we diagnose the source of your hand, wrist, and/or arm pain and discomfort, we can design the right treatment plan for you.
Did you know that carpal tunnel can also come from neck dysfunction?
Explore the link between neck dysfunction and pain throughout your body in our blog post. It provides helpful tips to avoid discomfort and exercise links to improve your overall neck function.