Carpal tunnel Syndrome is a condition that can affect everything in life. Even on the most beautiful of days, where you’d love to throw your hands up to worship the warm sun, you don’t want to because of a bad sleep the night before combined with wrist pain and numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers. Imagine you want to start a new small business that involves intense work with your hands, like an eatery, but all you can think about is the pain caused by crafting food all day. Maybe you’ve reached the point where medications don’t work, and the fear is starting to kick in because doctors have said that surgery is the only true answer. And I don’t blame you. I mean who really wants to go under the knife? You’re unfortunately in good company: roughly five million Canadians, according to Stats Canada, have what is considered pain and are suffering from repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s).
Webmd.com and Mayoclinic.org both refer to CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) as “numbness, tingling, or other symptoms in the arm or hand, most often related to (cause by) pressure on the median nerve.” There are references to other conditions that influence it, activities to avoid, and ways to prevent it:
I’ve seen hundreds of carpal tunnel or numbness/tingling sufferers leave my office pain free after we accurately determined the root cause.
Let’s look at some possible contributing factors you can address yourselves:
Weak forearms – most people spend many hours a day in a strenuous computer posture/keyboard position; this wrist position and lack of dynamic activity (I.e. moving your arms, not just your fingers) leads to the muscles controlling your fingers to be tight and tired – we think to stretch, but in fact there is more benefit derived from strengthening: There are multiple options you can use to strengthen both sides of your forearm on a daily basis – you can use a soup can, or a squeezy ball, anything firm enough to challenge you.
—What may occur as pain or soreness at first is your body telling you just how weak those muscles have gotten, so push through this stage of discomfort.—
Posture – When your head is flexed forward for long periods of time (like when scrolling through social media apps or playing a video game) the spinal cord gets stretched and the nerves in your lower neck are under tension. This is especially the case while doing this in bed, with your head propped forward on a pillow. Not OK! As your mom always said – sit up straight! This same position with a book is no better either.
Tension BELOW the neck – tell me someone who’s NEVER had mild-moderate-severe tightness in their shoulders. Sitting most of the day, shoulders not moving, and just fingers typing away, is another surprising “local” source for restricting normal flow of nerve signals from your neck to your arms and hands. Massage may be great for this, BUT, if you only get temporary relief through a registered massage therapist, the muscles may not be the root issue.
Potentially the most common cause of Carpal Tunnel Pain is spinal:
Take a close look – the image BELOW shows you that the connection of the nerves in your wrists and hands have to travel from the brain, THROUGH the neck and down your arm to reach them. And most people have had, or currently have neck or shoulder tension (even worse issues/severity sometimes) – when stress, tension and possibly trauma occur, the nerves that end up in your wrists and fingers are blocked, injured or crushed. THIS is most often the accurate source of carpal tunnel issues. Let me guess – you’re just learning this fact for the first time – and you wonder why? Good question. One problem is that the connection between the nerves in your wrist and the nerve roots at the spine is generally an often-overlooked one in the medical profession.
Don’t get me wrong, I ‘m intrigued by medical marvels like everyone else, but the fact that your brain controls everything in your body, however straight forward and logical, isn’t discussed on a regular basis. A study in the Lancet journal showed that up to 75% of carpal tunnel patients also had a nerve problem in their neck.
This could be why so many of the surgeries fail. Imagine that!? You have the doctors dig around in your wrists and scrape at the bones which is very invasive and risky, only to be left in the same place or worse, years later. Sometimes surgery is the only option, but it should definitely be the last resort.
Multiple scientific studies have proven that chiropractic is effective in helping carpal tunnel patients be pain free: one study showed that with chiropractic care, patients had “significant improvement in perceived comfort and function, nerve conduction and finger sensation overall.” – JMPT 1998
Another concluded: “Significant increase in grip strength and normalization of motor and sensory latencies were noted. Orthopedic tests were negative. Symptoms dissipated.” – JMPT 1994
It’s nice to have these studies to back up what we see in our practice almost every single day. But again, perhaps frustrating that you didn’t get to know this earlier. So check your wrists, check your arms, check your posture and amount of time spent in low-motion positions without breaks (typing/smart-phone browsing) – just don’t forget to check your neck with a thorough chiropractor – that means one who will consult with you, perform a full spine and neurological evaluation, including x-rays (most importantly of the neck), and help you determine the root cause. If you’re in the neighbourhood, that’s us! If not, we’d love to help find you a suitable chiropractor near you.