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In order to understand how chiropractic can help with carpal tunnel syndrome it is important to know what the carpal tunnel is and the structures around it. The carpal tunnel is a small tunnel located inside the wrist. The top of the tunnel is formed by the alignment of the carpal (wrist) bones and the bottom is formed by the transverse ligament. There are nine tendons along with the median nerve which pass through the carpal tunnel. The symptoms of CTS are caused from the median nerve being irritated. The nerve can become inflamed and swollen causing pressure within the carpal tunnel.
The median nerve originates in the neck and travels under the collar bone, then passes down the arm. Finally, it passes through the carpal tunnel and to the hand muscles. The median nerve controls motor and sensory function to part of the hand. Pressure on the median nerve results in a disruption of signals from the brain to the hand which are relayed through the median nerve. If correction is not made to the median nerve, permanent problems can result. These can include partial or complete loss of movement, strength and sensation of the hand.
Some of the warning signs that may be related to carpal tunnel syndrome are numbness, tingling or weakness of the hands, neck tightness, swelling of the hands, abnormal sensation and clumsiness with use of the hands. Because the median nerve originates from the neck, it may become compressed anywhere along the course of its path. Misaligned bones of the neck, tight muscles of the neck, shoulder problems, cervical (neck) ribs, inflamed tendons and misaligned carpal (wrist) bones can all result in compressing the median nerve. This results in the symptoms associated with CTS.
Sometimes the median nerve can be compressed in both the neck and wrist, this condition is called "double crush syndrome." Double crush syndrome results in similar symptoms to carpal tunnel syndrome which is a reason for the failure of wrist only surgeries for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.
There are several causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. Occasionally it is congenital or with you from birth. It is usually caused from poor posture or ergonomics, repetitive movements done improperly over time, slips or falls, awkward hand positions from playing sports and work or hobbies such as bowling or racquetball. Pregnancy, birth control pills, diets that are high in salt and systemic diseases like diabetes can also contribute to the problem.
Incorrect posture while sitting at the computer can contribute to the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. There is a tendency to sit with the shoulders rolled forward and the head thrust forward. This can cause misaligned bones in the neck, resulting in irritation of the nerves that form the median nerve. This can cause referred pain, numbness or tingling in the hand. Maintaining good posture while sitting can help to the problem. This should include sitting upright with the shoulders relaxed and the head upright over the shoulders. The wrists should be in a neutral position and you should avoid continuously flexing or extending the wrists. The computer screen should be set at eye level and straight ahead to avoid continuously turning the neck.
Chiropractic can very effective in preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and treating it once it has developed. Chiropractic treatment directly releases pressure from the nerves by correcting misaligned bones. CTS may result from misaligned bones in the neck or wrist. Chiropractors have extensive education in dealing with the nervous system and muscular problems in the body. A Chiropractor can perform an X-ray, wrist and hand evaluation to determine the extent of the injury. Based on the result, the chiropractor will recommend a treatment plan which may include chiropractic adjustments to work on the misaligned bones and therapy to work on inflammation or injury to the soft tissue, such as ligaments and muscles. Research has shown chiropractic to be just as effective as medical treatment in helping with carpal tunnel syndrome. Chiropractic is a good alternative because it is natural and does not have the complications and side effects which are often found with medical treatment.
- Nathan Leavitt DC
Dr. Leavitt has been a licensed chiropractic physician since 2003. His deepest commitment is to help improve the health and quality of life of others. To learn more effective ways to improve your health naturally go here: knoxville chiropractor
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