An Inside Look at Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Being diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) can be very overwhelming, especially when it is impacting your ability to do your job or favourite past time. The tingling, pain or numbness in your fingers can make it difficult to use your computer, write or finish that painting project you’ve been trying to complete. Our first thoughts are often surgery however the good news is surgery is considered the last option for CTS, and conservative treatments, all of which are offered at Choice Health Centre, often resolve CTS, so you can get back to doing what you love!
So, what exactly is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)? CTS a compression of the median nerve. The median nerve exits spine at the neck and travels down the arm to the tips of the fingers. A compression of this nerve can happen anywhere along its path so some of your symptoms can be different than someone else’s. With true CTS, the compression happens when it passes through a narrow pathway in your wrist, known as the carpal tunnel. This anatomical tunnel consists of carpal (wrist) bones and ligaments. The most common cause of CTS is repetitive flexion and extension of the wrist which without proper rest, causes scar tissue to build up on the muscles, ligaments and tendons in the forearm and causes the space for the nerve to pass through to get smaller and smaller. When the pathway gets too small, it causes nerve compression and symptoms such as tingling, pain and weakness- with CTS, the symptoms namely will affect the thumb, and all fingers except the pinkie finger. Symptoms usually appear gradually, and often are first noticed after a night’s sleep.
CTS is common in those who work repetitively with their hands- mechanics, massage therapists, musicians and increasingly common desk jobs/computer work. CTS can also sometimes occur secondary to other conditions. For example, if someone had an injury to their arm it could lead to swelling (edema) in the carpal tunnel and add pressure or fibrosis and thickening of the tendons that also run through it. Systemic conditions such as pregnancy, diabetes, hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis can also result in edema and fluid retention in the carpal tunnel can reduce the canal space.
At Choice Health Centre, we have a wide range of disciplines that can help resolve CTS. We will work as a team to develop the best care plan to meet your needs and ensure you see positive results. Our chiropractors have special expertise in nerve entrapment syndromes, like CTS. They are able to diagnose and treat your condition through relieving pressure via gentle manipulation of your wrist and/or elbow, or target the scar tissue via Active Release Techniques or Graston Technique. Our Physiotherapists and kinesiologists can give advice on activity modifications, rehabilitative exercises, offer customized bracing options and can also use modalities such as Low Level Laser Therapy to expedite nerve regeneration. Our massage therapists can help relax the muscles that are causing the nerve impingement and help with stretches to keep the muscles from being hypertonic. Acupuncture, including functional dry needling and TCM acupuncture, can be very helpful for all nerve entrapments, as can customized B12, magnesium and other supplementation prescribed through our Naturopathic Doctor.
Even though things may seem overwhelming when CTS stops you from doing the things you need to and love to do, the Choice Team can help you see the light at the end of the (carpal) tunnel!
- Clinical Massage Therapy textbook. Fiona Rattray and Linda Ludwig