Chiropractic Can Help You with Carpal Tunnel

Chiropractic Can Help You with Carpal Tunnel

Chiropractic Can Help You with Carpal Tunnel

            Chiropractic treatment is a worthwhile treatment option for carpal tunnel syndrome through manual manipulations and various techniques that bring the body back into alignment as well as pain relief. Although it’s the common thought amongst patients that chiropractic only treats back problems, in its purest form, chiropractic is realigning the joints of including the hands, wrists, and fingers. There are many things that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, and standard medication usually will treat with medication or sometimes physical therapy to temporarily mask the symptoms. Chiropractic care is a valuable non-invasive approach that is worth patients exploring and understanding.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Basics


            Carpal tunnel syndrome generates tingling, numbness, and pain within in the hand and forearm, and is a very common condition amongst patients. It involves the median nerve becoming compressed as it moves through the wrist, and the problem is that it tends to get worse over time, but symptoms will usually be gradual.


Potential Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:


  • Tingling, numbness, pain, and/or burning – these feelings will usually happen in the fingers, and will many times wake patients up in the night.
  • Pain and/or tingling that radiates or moves – this feeling may move up the forearm going approaching the shoulder.
  • Dropping items – carpal tunnel can cause weakness and numbness in the hands, and a loss of the sense of movement or location of the hand also known as kinesthesia.
  • Shock-like feeling – this only happens occasionally, and will radiate to all fingers but the pinky finger.
  • Clumsiness in the hand – due to weakness in the hand it can be difficult for a patient to utilize fine motor skills.

Often times, in the beginning, patients will find that their symptoms are gradual, and also come and go which is why many people put off treatment for so long. As far as the risk of developing carpal tunnel, it can be brought on by a variety of factors, and there is no pinpointed cause for it other than it involves pressure on the median nerve. Even the risk factors may not directly cause the carpal tunnel, but they may escalate the risk of impairing the median nerve.


Carpal Tunnel Risk Factors:


  • Assigned Sex at Birth – since the carpal tunnel area is somewhat smaller in women, carpal tunnel is more common in women than in men. It can also potentially be due to the effects of hormones on the tendons within the carpal tunnel.
  • Inflammatory Conditions – conditions such as gout and RA (rheumatoid arthritis) can cause inflammation which can in-turn affect the tendons in the wrist putting pressure on the median nerve.
  • Physiological Factors – a wrist injury can change the space in the carpal tunnel.
  • Nerve-damaging Conditions – some conditions such as diabetes can increase the probability of nerve damage including the median nerve.
  • Other Medical Conditions – conditions like kidney failure, thyroid disorders, and lymphedema can potentially elevate the chances of getting carpal tunnel.
  • Obesity – if the patient has had a sudden recent weight gain, the increased build-up of fluid in the tissue of the carpal tunnel can cause a pressure on the median nerve.
  • Workplace – if the patient has a job that requires repetitive movements that flex the wrist will create pressure in the median nerve. If these movements are necessary daily, any existing nerve damage may worsen.

Although some of these symptoms or issues that surround carpal tunnel may sound minimal in comparison to the various other conditions that we treat with chiropractic, if left untreated, it can lead to permanent dysfunction and loss of sensation in the hand. The benefit of chiropractic for carpal tunnel is that it will allow patients to find not only relief, but lasting relief.



Chiropractic for Carpal Tunnel


            Chiropractic treatment works to aim for the underlying reason for your carpal tunnel pain and /or numbness. It is through gentle manual manipulations as well as other techniques available to realign the body. Chiropractic works by decreasing inflammation in the carpal tunnel, improving blood flow, takes out spinal misalignments, and enhances overall health.


Potential Chiropractic Treatment Protocol for Carpal Tunnel:


  • Soft tissue mobilization techniques – these can involve skin scraping, Gua Sha, and Graston technique to break up any fascial adhesions within the wrist.
  • Mobilization of the hand and wrist
  • Utilize cold packs to decrease swelling
  • Joint manipulation – realign and restore motion of the carpal bones, then working on decreasing compression on the flexor retinaculum as well as the nerves that are below it. It’s important that patients understand that chiropractic should be the first line of defense being that any standard carpal tunnel treatment will not work properly or for the long term if the carpal bones don’t have full range of motion.
  • Yoga or other non-invasive options
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Properly rest the wrist/hand

It is also vital that we advise patients that even though they may feel symptoms come and go, that they should absolutely get seen by a chiropractor to receive a personalized solution that helps long term. Not to mention that the condition will improve as opposed to getting worse. Chiropractic will work to restore proper function and range of motion to the hand and wrist, and make for a better connection between the brain and the median nerve.


Some other helpful treatments in our chiropractic toolbox helpful for carpal tunnel is laser therapy, ultrasound, manual therapy, and bracing.


Hand/Wrist Stretches:


  • Extensor Stretch – Make a fist with the elbow straight then pull back on the fist from underneath. The patient should feel the stretch on the top of the arm.
  • Thumb Stretch – have the patient grab the thumb in their fist, and then bend the wrist down. They should feel the stretch in the thumb and wrist.
  • Carpal Stretch – have the patient place their palm on the wall flat with their fingers pointing down without bending the elbow. Then, with the other hand, pull the thumb back, and they should feel the stretch on the underside of the forearm.

Another question that patients may be asking you is how carpal tunnel is even related to the profession of chiropractic because it has nothing to do with the spine. However, as we know, most conditions relate back to the spine, and in the case of carpal tunnel, there has been research found of inflammation in the spinal nerve roots in those who have carpal tunnel. Furthermore, if there is a misalignment in the neck, it causes the nerves in the neck to be blocked therefore blocking the flow to the wrist making chiropractic treatment a more logical modality option.



Chiropractic & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


            The major benefit of chiropractic for carpal tunnel is that we are often able to save many patients the trouble of surgery. Being that chiropractors are specialists in muscle and joint treatment, the results will be greater going to a chiropractor for carpal tunnel treatment. Carpal tunnel is considered to be the most common entrapment neuropathy, and affects 3 – 6% of adults worldwide, and standard medical providers often have a hard time diagnosing it due to patients presenting with symptoms that overlap with other conditions. Chiropractic may be the key to providing the appropriate individualized diagnosis and treatment for patients with carpal tunnel by getting back to what we know to be more often than not the root of the issue…a misaligned spine.