Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) occurs when a nerve in the wrist called the “Median Nerve” is compressed. This typically occurs in people that do repetitive motions of the wrist day in and day out, such as office workers, meat cutters, hair dressers, and athletes.
The most common signs and symptoms of CTS are pain in the wrist, numbness, tingling, weakness of grip, arm pain, and night pain.
The median nerve actually originates in the neck. It forms from nerve roots in the lower cervical spine, then travels down the middle of the forearm and through a bony tunnel in the wrist called the carpal tunnel.
When the carpal tunnel bones are out of alignment or the contents of the tunnel are overworked (tendons), the median nerve can become irritated and cause CTS symptoms.
But here’s the deal…if the nerve roots that form the median nerve are irritated as they exit the spine…say from a herniated disc in the neck…it can cause the same symptoms you feel when you have carpal tunnel syndrome.
And get this…you would not necessarily have any neck pain. Sometimes you do…sometimes you don’t. It’s when you don’t that causes problems with a proper diagnosis. If you go to a doctor for CTS symptoms that does not deal with carpal tunnel syndrome and herniated discs in the neck on a regular basis, you may get a bad diagnosis.
In fact, in my 20 years in practice, I can’t tell you how many times a doctor has diagnosed hand pain as CTS when the problem was a herniated disc in the neck.
Sometimes the patient has both. If a herniated disc in the neck is suspected we will usually order a cervical MRI to rule it out. But first we try conservative chiropractic care to see if we can improve the patients condition.
Our treatment is from the neck to the fingertips on both sides. We will typically perform chiropractic adjustments to the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers to realign the spine and extremities, restore motion, and improve strength and function. We will also massage the area to reduce muscle spasms and inflammation as well as break-up and prevent scar tissue formation. Then, we will implement custom exercises to strengthen the areas and restore normal motion.
In the event this CTS protocol fails to deliver desired results, we consider a cervical MRI and nonsurgical spinal decompression to the cervical spine with the DRX9000c. We also have deep tissue therapeutic laser which can help with herniated discs and carpal tunnel syndrome.
A little different than wrist splints and Motrin Huh?
Believe it or not that’s a common medical approach to these problems. Then cortisone…then surgery…OUCH!
Now not every chiropractor is a carpal tunnel and herniated disc expert…but some are…you have to do some homework to find them.
If you live or work or plan to travel to San Francisco you can visit our San Francisco Spinal Decompression Center. Our chiropractors are trained in all the above. If you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation please call 415-392-2225 and mention this blog post.