Each year, many people are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and experience symptoms like tingling, numbness, burning and pain in parts of the hands and wrists or even an inability to grasp properly. Carpal tunnel release is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States, but new findings report that nearly half of these surgeries are unsuccessful in relieving symptoms. Learn more about this commonly diagnosed syndrome and how chiropractic can help with the symptoms of CTS.
What is CTS?
Your carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway located in the wrist. This "tunnel" allows for the median nerve, which extends from the spine to the hand, to pass through. Any swelling of the carpal tunnel can cause compression on the median nerve, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome and potentially cutting off or limiting feeling and movement to portions of the hand. Women are three times as prone to developing the condition as men. Experts are unsure why women are more likely to get CTS, but it's suspected it may be due to the smaller size of most women's carpal tunnel.
Carpal tunnel syndrome cases can be complicated because it's often impossible to pinpoint the exact cause. There is research indicating that some cases of CTS may be caused by repetitive motion, like construction work, factory work or typing. Evidence suggests that genetics could play a role as well; some people simply have a smaller carpal tunnel than others.
More importantly, CTS can be difficult to diagnosis. Often, misdiagnosed patients are suffering from another condition that exhibits similar symptoms, such as arthritis, subluxations or disc degeneration in the cervical spine that can cause irritation of the median nerve.
Invasive, Aggressive Treatments
Despite these issues with diagnosis, invasive treatments like injected steroids and surgery are currently the major treatment options considered for the painful condition. This is particularly concerning since nearly half of the surgical treatments for CTS are unsuccessful, indicating that many patients are misdiagnosed, according to a study published by the Journal of Clinical Engineering.
Chiropractic Treatment of CTS
We strongly recommend seeking out non-invasive treatments first if you suspect CTS. Though the healing power of chiropractic is often overlooked, organizations such as the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and the University of Maryland Medical Center list chiropractic as an alternative treatment for CTS.
The median nerve originates in the cervical spine. A chiropractor can investigate and locate any potential interference in your spinal vertebrae that may be causing compression of the nerves. Chiropractic methods of treatment can include gentle manipulation of the wrist, elbow and cervical spine.
Left untreated, the syndrome can cause permanent damage to the hand or thumb. If you think you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, a quick consultation with a chiropractor can kick-start the healing process and potentially prevent an unnecessary surgery.