Heal Carpal Tunnel Naturally With Chiropractic and Laser Therapy
Carpal tunnel syndrome can have many causes. Often it is work related but it can be caused by injury or even decreased nerve supply from other areas of the spine and neck.
Carpal tunnel can be very problematic especially if you work with your hands. People often say they wake up at night with their hand feeling painful or numb. Sometimes they even wake up with their hand hanging over the side of the bed.
Carpal tunnel surgery can create scar tissue in the hand that can make it stiff. Scar tissue from wrist surgery can also cause carpal tunnel symptoms because the scar tissue itself actually impinges on the median nerve.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when something impinges on the median located in the wrist at the base of the palm of the hand. This impingement may be caused by scar tissue from overuse, generalized inflammation and swelling or simply a subluxation or small misalignment of one of the small bones of the wrist.
Carpal tunnel causes a very specific set of symptoms and is often misdiagnosed. In fact, in my office I have observed numerous patients who were actually scheduled for carpal tunnel surgery who did not meet the most basic of indications for carpal tunnel.
The nerve involved has a very specific pathway. If it is impinged, the median nerve will cause symptoms in the thumb, the index finger and sometimes part of the middle finger. There may be pain at the base of the thumb. In advanced cases, muscle wasting or atrophy of the pad below the thumb (thenar pad) can occur.
If your symptoms are in the little finger or ring finger, your problem is not carpal tunnel!
True carpal tunnel happens when swelling inside the small tunnel that runs between the wrist and heel of the palm and effects the median nerve. The symptoms are usually very specific. Swelling compresses the nerve leading to numbness, tingling or weakness in the first three fingers. The numbness may wake you up in the night. Finally, it may cause pain, but pain is not always present.
Tendinitis, which is one of the syndromes that may be confused with carpal tunnel, causes pain in your forearm or hand, usually without any numbness or tingling. If numbness is present, it usually affects the whole hand, not just three fingers. Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons around the wrist joint itself and is more often causing pain in the wrists.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Many people think that using a computer keyboard causes CTS. However, using a mouse and keyboard has not been strongly linked to CTS. The most common causes are repetitive and forced motions like using power tools, working on an assembly line etc. Women who are pregnant are susceptible because of the swelling that can occur with pregnancy. Diabetics and the obese also have an increased risk for similar reasons.
Using a computer keyboard and mouse has however, been linked to tendonitis of the wrist and forearm which is often confused with CTS.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is Often Misdiagnosed
Wrist pain may often be misinterpreted as CTS. Often the pain is simply tendonitis caused by overuse. Dr. David Rempel, who is a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at UC San Francisco estimates that only 2% of people with wrist pain have CTS and tendonitis accounts for up to 14%. We have seen in our office patients scheduled for CTS surgery that do not actually have CTS.
Treatment for Carpal Tunnel
Usually with carpal tunnel, inflammation is involved. Most home treatment centers around addressing inflammation and resting the wrist from aggravating activity. Icing, rest and bracing are some of the most effective home treatments for home care. If home care does not work, you may need outside help.
Surgery should never be the first choice for healing any condition of the body.
Wrist and possibly neck adjustments from a skilled chiropractor are very often quite effective. The small bones of the wrist can become misplaced and pinch the nerve. Adjusting the wrist can relieve this pressure. The inflammation itself may be addressed with laser therapy which can heal tissue, reduce inflammation and decrease scarring and help to relieve the pain, swelling and numbness that can occur.
Is Surgery the Answer?
Surgery has it’s drawbacks. General surgery risks include: reactions to anesthesia, risk of infections, clotting that can lead to stroke, heart attack and so on. Loss of grip strength is a risk for carpal tunnel surgery. Some experience permanent loss of fine motor skills and dexterity in the affected hand. Rehabilitation can take months and up to a year. Scar tissue can occur post surgery that may actually cause carpal tunnel! Permanent nerve damage may occur if the scalpel touches the nerve during surgery. Sometimes additional surgeries are required to relieve pressure caused by scar tissue formed from the original surgery. Carpal Tunnel Surgery gets a 50 to 60% success rate based on patient surveys and CTS symptoms come back within 6 months to 7 years after surgery for 85% of people.
Chiropractic Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Our office is experienced in helping people with carpal tunnel and Dr Whittington has cared for many people with carpal tunnel using natural chiropractic treatments. Gentle chiropractic adjustments help restore natural function to the wrist and move wrist bones off the median nerve in the tunnel. Laser therapy helps stimulate healing by reducing inflammation, swelling and reducing scar tissue. These warm laser treatments can often make the difference between success naturally and surgery.
If you would like a second opinion prior to carpal surgery or if you would like to explore highly effective, natural, natural treatments, give us a call and we will discuss your concerns and see how we can help.