Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- clumsiness or loss of coordination of hand when gripping objects;
- numbness or tingling in the fingers or palm of the hand;
- pain in the elbow, wrist or hand;
- weakened grip, and
- atrophy of the muscle under the thumb (in chronic cases)2
Upon diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a physician may find:
- numbness in the thumb, index finger, or middle finger;
- decrease in grip strength;
- tapping over the median nerve causing a shooting pain (known as Tinel’s Sign); and
- fully flexing the wrist forward for 60 seconds causing numbness (known as Phalen’s test)2.
There are many different medical treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Many doctors will recommend using anti-inflammatory drugs which can have many side effects such as liver damage, if taken in excess or over a prolonged period. Corticosteroid injections may also be given. These treatments are very short term and do not treat the cause of the condition. In severe cases, the flexor retinaculum, the tendon sheath that overlies the median nerve in the wrist may be severed. For patients who undergo this surgery, the healing process may take months. In some cases, this may not treat the full symptoms2.
Chiropractors and some medical doctors will recommend wearing a splint to help relieve the pressure the tight muscles may create on the median nerve. Also, warm or cool compresses may be used to help with blood flow or inflammation. Chiropractic adjustments are also very helpful at reducing the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Since the nerves that go into the arm and wrist originate in the neck, if there is a misalignment in the neck, the nerves may not be able to function at 100% and thus may cause irritation or symptoms to occur3.
In order to determine the exact cause of an individual’s Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a full exam is needed. The wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck should be examined. The cause could be from poor posture, poor ergonomics, or a misalignment in the neck, shoulder, elbow or wrist since everything is connected.