Carpal tunnel syndrome is a neurological condition affecting the hands. It usually involves numbness or altered sensations in the thumb and first two fingers, and weakness on movement of the thumb. These symptoms are caused by compression of the median nerve by a band of ligament which lies across the inside of the wrist, forming a "tunnel" between it and the hand or carpal bones.
Many factors can be involved in development of carpal tunnel syndrome. It often occurs in pregnancy when the limbs are swollen due to fluid retention. It may occur with overuse of the arm and hand, causing tissue swelling. The swelling inside the wrist causes the nerve to be pressed against the surrounding ligament.
If the symptoms are not relieved by rest or medication, a brace is usually constructed to prevent movement of the wrist. If this is not successful, surgery may be recommended. This involves cutting the ligamentous band to decompress the nerve.
In some cases the median nerve is partially compressed at its nerve root in the spine, in the shoulder or arm, or at the elbow and this makes it very vulnerable to slight pressure at the wrist as well. When the nerve is compromised at the wrist and at another site, this is called "double crush" syndrome. If the pressure at the spine, shoulder or elbow is released, the numbness and weakness may subside.
If you have been diagnosed as having carpal tunnel syndrome or if you are experiencing similar symptoms, a consultation could reveal a possible cause which may be correctable without surgery. For further information, contact our office.
It is always advisable to try more conservative approaches before electing surgery. Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome are frequently seen in chiropractic practice. It may be the presenting complaint, or it may be an incidental complaint by a patient seeking help with another problem. In many cases a course of treatment of the neck, shoulder, elbow and wrist, as well as the rest of the spine, eliminates the symptoms of the nerve compression.
The mechanism for this lies in the blood supply and nerve supply to the arm, which arise from the shoulder and neck areas. If the veins or lymph channels near the neck are slightly compressed by overly tight muscles, they will restrict the returning blood supply or lymphatic fluid supply from the arm, which can cause swelling. If the sympathetic nerves to the arm are irritated by abnormal joint movement they can also affect the blood supply.