(NaturalHealth365) Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common conditions affecting the nerves in the hand. The estimates are that anywhere from 3 to 6 percent of adults suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Most cases of CTS develop in people who are between 45-64 years of age.
CTS is usually thought of as a progressive process – which occurs because the nerve in the wrist has become compressed or swollen or both. Conventionally speaking, carpal tunnel release is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the United States and usually recommended, if symptoms last for 6 months or longer.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
The symptoms can include all or just some of these; pain in the palm of the hand, pain in the wrist, numbness in the hand, tingling of the hand, weakness and a loss of grip strength, with a loss of hand coordination.
Usually, symptoms can get worse by using the hand, after sleeping or any movement that requires flexing of the hand. Regardless of the symptoms, it is still the same nerve causing the discomfort.
The median nerve controls the sensations to the palm side of the thumb and all fingers except the little finger. It also controls the impulse of a few of the small muscles in the hand, which allows the fingers and thumb the ability to move.
Symptoms usually come on gradually, which may be most prominent in the thumb, index and middle fingers.
What cause carpal tunnel syndrome?
CTS can be brought on by a number of factors. It is usually a combination of things, which combine to increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons, rather than the nerve itself.
Contributing factors may include trauma to the wrist, sprains, fractures, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, structural problems with the wrist joint, edema, diabetes, repetitious movements, and over-activity of the pituitary gland or a cyst.
Many times no cause can be found. There is little to no clinical data to show that repetitive movements of the hands on a computer can cause this condition.
The risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is especially common in people who perform assembly line work such as: meat, poultry or fish packing, sewing, cleaning, knitting, gardening, checkout cashier, and packing. It’s three times more common among assemblers than among data-entry workers.
In fact, using vibrating hand tools repeatedly raises the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
The best way to treat carpal tunnel symptoms
The aims of treatments are to reduce pressure on the median nerve, thus relieving symptoms. People with mild symptoms respond best and find they improve even without treatment in less than a few months.
Many of the recommendations can be done by the patient. The standard advice is to rest the hand and wrist, use cold compacts, and to use of a wrist splint.
The medications used are steroid injections applied directly into the area. These injections can be given again in a few months. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen sometimes help for short-term relief.
In cases of severe carpel tunnel syndrome, which didn’t respond to standard treatments, surgery is usually recommended. The carpal ligament is cut to reduce pressure on the median nerve.
A survey by the National Health Service found that only about 50% thought the procedure cured them, while 25% said their symptoms improved and at least 25% were not helped. In addition, unfavorable outcomes ranging from nerve injury and scarring were reported.
Occasionally, the wrist loses strength because the carpal ligament is cut. Patients should undergo physical therapy after surgery to restore wrist strength. Some patients may need to adjust job duties or even change jobs after recovery from surgery.
Another way to view carpal tunnel syndrome
Pain in the wrist, numbness in the fingers, tingling, and weakness in the hands can be caused by median nerve compression somewhere other than the wrist. The median nerve comes down from the neck to the hand.
A misalignment in the neck, bulging discs, tight neck muscles and even shoulder or elbow injuries can cause the same symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Regardless of where the symptoms are, it is still the same nerve, and its upper most portions still travels from the neck, below the shoulder, and down the arm. Which means any irritation in the neck is more likely to show up as irritation and symptoms anywhere on the nerves pathway including the hands.
Bottom line, carpal tunnel is not always just a problem of the wrist; it is many times a problem of the median nerve at various places.
By getting your spine in better alignment you may also find you solved your carpel tunnel syndrome issues. A review of the medically-confirmed carpal tunnel syndrome cases reveals that the majority of patients examined also had concurrent problems with the cervical spine.
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About the author: Dr. Matthew Roe is a practicing upper cervical chiropractor and has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Science. He has a Doctor of Chiropractic degree graduating Cum Laude from Life University College of Chiropractic. Having studied with the best Upper Cervical specific doctors in the world he understands true healing. His practice focus is to help people fine true health naturally.
For more information about Dr. Roe – visit: WinterGardenChiropractors.com
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