What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition you may acquire when one of nerves that runs through your wrist (the median nerve) becomes compressed. The carpal tunnel is a small passageway made up of ligaments and bones that the median nerve runs through. This passageway can sometimes become too narrow, placing pressure on the nerve and causing symptoms. The main symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are pain in the hand, wrist or forearm, as well as numbness of tingling. There can also sometimes be some weakness of the hand or the wrist. Usually shaking out the hand will temporarily relieve the symptoms. Often there is more than one thing that contributes to carpal tunnel syndrome occurring in a person. Some of the risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- A fracture or dislocation of the wrist
- Some chronic illnesses such as diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Fluid retention (common during pregnancy or menopause)
- Repetitive movements of the wrist
- Working with vibrating tools
How can chiropractic help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the passageway in the wrist that the medial nerve runs through becoming too small and placing pressure on the nerve. This could be caused or worsened by the joints within your wrist becoming misaligned. Chiropractors are trained on how identify misalignments within the wrist and adjust them if necessary. Having all the joints in the wrist properly aligned minimises the chance of the carpal tunnel being narrowed, and will help in the process of healing of the wrist. As well as the wrist, chiropractors can also adjust elbows and shoulders, to ensure that all of the joints in the arm are healthy and moving properly. When everything is in its correct place, it reduces the chance of pressure being placed on nerves.
What are some ways you can help yourself with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
While chiropractic care can help stop and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, there are things you can do yourself to help along the healing process and prevent it from occurring again in the future. These include:
- Keeping warm – cold temperatures can aggravate the nerve and increase your symptoms.
- Keep your wrist in a neutral position – if you are using a keyboard and/or mouse for work, make sure they are in a position that allows your wrist to be in a neutral position, prolonged flexion of the wrist will aggravate symptoms and slow down healing.
- Compression sleeve – this can help to keep you wrist in a neutral position, and prevent you from flexing the wrist too much and for too long.
- Minimise repetitive movement – where possible try and minimise the repetitive movements that caused the carpal tunnel syndrome in the first place. If this is not possible make sure your are at least taking regular breaks.
- Take it easy – make sure you are not straining your wrist more than you need to, making simple changes such as reducing your grip on a pen or typing more lightly can help to reduce the pressure in your wrist.
- Stretching – gently stretching out your wrist can help ease the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.