Carpal Tunnel Syndrome…and what you should know
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
CTS, or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, has made a name for itself. With the increased use of technology and personal computers, the rate of diagnosis has been increasing. With higher demands at work, poor or sub-par ergonomics, or repetitive use, more and more people are developing the painful and debilitating syndrome.
First, let’s talk about what CTS is. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the effects of compression/ congestion of the Median Nerve at the wrist. It affects the thumb, pointer finger, and the middle finger on the palmar side. Usually, the inflicted patient will experience tingling, numbness and/or pain along the nerves distribution. This in turn causes the patient to lose the effectiveness of using that hand. But what actually causes this to happen. We must first look at the anatomy and understand where the encroachment or compression is occurring.
As you can see, there are many structures that are passing under the transverse carpal ligament. This ligament is designed to hold not only nerves but muscles and vascular structures in tight to the skeletal system. When looking at the cross section, there appears to be a tunnel or space for the structures. When this area is compressed or congested with inflammation, pressure on the nerve is detected. This usually occurs with numbness and tingling as well as pain. In many cases, the encroachment in the area is typically a result of misaligned bones and contracted muscles and tendons.
There are many options for patients who suffer from CTS. Most people opt for medical treatment, believing that the pain is derived from something fairly serious. In addition, if the patient has diabetes or neuropathy, they already have a working relationship with a family doctor so it is more convenient to bring that complaint to their attention. Orthopedic and nerve conduction testing help to confirm the diagnosis of CTS as well as a full work-up and testing. By clipping a portion of the transverse carpal it opens the carpal tunnel and relieves the pressure on the nerves. Unfortunately, there is a recovery period. A post-surgical follow-up is usually mandated with referral to Physical Therapy in most cases.
There are other conservative treatments that are available. Of course, I believe that every effort should be attempted before surgical intervention. Chiropractic has remarkable results with CTS signs and symptoms with a very conservative approach. By re-establishing the position of the carpals, evaluating the tone of the tendons and muscles, the carpal tunnel can be restored. In addition to Chiropractic treatments, ergonomic changes must be initiated. That may include workstation modifications, supports, or changes in desk height.
In closing, CTS sufferers have options that minimize the need for surgical intervention. Granted, some cases require surgery due to the severity but most can be effected positively with very little downtime. Until next time, we want you to Feel Better, Faster, for Good.
Dr. Chad A. Folk, DC