What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The median nerve provides feeling to the palm side of the thumb, to the index, middle and part of the ring fingers. It also controls some small muscles at the base of the thumb. The carpal tunnel which is a narrow, rigid passageway of ligaments and bones at the base of the hand, houses the median nerve and tendons that bend the fingers and when irritated can cause issues with movement in your hand.
When the lining of irritated tendons thickens or swelling narrows the tunnel, it can cause the median nerve to be compressed. This may cause results such as numbness, weakness, pain in the hand and wrist and sometimes in the forearm and upper arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming increasingly common as work moves online and laptop use becomes increasingly common.
What Are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- Symptoms can start gradually with frequent burning, tingling or itching numbness in the palm of the hands and fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers.
- Some carpal tunnel sufferers say their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though listed or no swelling may be apparent.
- The symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during the night, since many people sleep with flexed wrists. A person with CTS may wake up feeling the need to ‘shake out’ the hand or wrist.
- As symptoms worsen, some might feel tingling during the day and feel it increase in their dominant hand.
- Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks.
In chronic and/or untreated the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away. Some people are unable to tell between a hot and cold touch.
What Are the Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often caused by a combination of factors, which impact the movement of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel. Contributing factors include:
- Trauma or injury to the wrist that cause swelling, such as sprain or fracture.
- An overactive pituitary gland.
- An under-active thyroid gland and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Mechanical problems in the wrist joint, work stress, repeated use of vibrating hand tools, excessive typing or repetitive movements.
- Fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause.
- In extreme cases, a development of a cyst or tumour in the canal also may also contribute to the compression.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Preventatives and Chiropractic Care
Seeing a chiropractor regularly is one of the best methods of care to help reduce CTS, as they can offer a non-invasive treatment to help treat your CTS without the need of surgery. They can investigate and locate any potential interference in your spinal vertebrae, shoulder and arms that may be causing compression of the nerves. Some chiropractic methods of treatment include: gentle manipulation of the wrist, elbow and cervical spine. It’s important to see a specialist as soon as you recognise the symptoms as if left untreated, CTS can cause permanent damage to the hand or thumb.
If you start noticing a spur of CTS, you can do a few things to help reduce its symptoms. Make sure to regularly perform hand and forearm stretches, take frequent breaks and ensure correct posture and wrist position. Wearing fingerless gloves can also help keep your hands warm and flexible. Make sure to also assess your work place, tools and tasks to help enable maintaining your wrist in a natural position.
If you notice symptoms of CTS call us on (02) 9588 7000 or book online to see one of our chiropractors who will be able to assist you in your rehabilitation.