You’ve probably seen a checkout person at the grocery store or a teller at your bank wearing a wrist brace. Chances are that they’re wearing the brace because they have carpal tunnel syndrome. Since you’re reading this, are you suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, too?
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Your wrist is the narrowest part of your arm and hand. Despite being narrow, your wrist houses a number of bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Your carpal tunnel is a narrow passage in your wrist that protects your median nerve and the tendons which pass through it. Your median nerve provides sensation and motor control to your thumb, and sensation to your index, middle and ring fingers. The tendons that pass through your carpal tunnel allow your fingers to bend.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tendons and surrounding tissues become constricted and compress the median nerve. The tunnel itself is made of rigid tissue that is unable to accommodate much stretching or swelling. Furthermore, swelling or inflammation in the area also impacts the synovial membrane in the carpal tunnel. Synovial tissues produce synovial fluid, which lubricates your joints, tendon sheaths, and bursae. In carpal tunnel syndrome, swelling of the synovium not only compresses your median nerve, but also restricts the movement of the ligaments to your hand.
Carpal tunnel is called a syndrome, which means that there are a variety of symptoms associated with this condition, and not everyone will necessarily experience every symptom. It’s common for the symptoms of carpal tunnel to begin slowly or be felt infrequently, but over time if the condition persists, your symptoms may become chronic and more severe. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness and tingling along the pathway of the median nerve in your hand, which include all of your fingers except your little finger. You may also feel pain or a burning sensation in those fingers.
- Sharp bursts of pain or shocks that begin in your wrist and radiate to the affected fingers.
- Numbness, pain, or tingling that radiates upward, through your forearm, upper arm, and shoulder.
- Loss of dexterity or weakness in your affected hand.
- A loss of awareness of how your hand is functioning, causing you to become clumsy or drop things.
The symptoms of nerve-related conditions are often worse at night. With carpal tunnel syndrome it is common for your symptoms to become aggravated when you spend long periods of time with your wrist bent in either direction, like driving, using a computer, or holding a phone to your ear.
There are a number of factors that can increase your chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
- Repetitive motions with your hand. Over time, this can cause inflammation and swelling of the tendons that run through your carpal tunnel, compressing the nerve.
- Genetics may play a role. Body structure tends to run in families, and the anatomy of your carpal tunnel is no exception. A smaller carpal tunnel may be handed down from your parents or grandparents.
- The position of your hand and wrist when you’re doing repetitive activities is also a factor. Actions that involve bending your wrist in either direction may put pressure on the median nerve, if done over a long period of time.
- Certain health conditions may raise your risk of having carpal tunnel syndrome. These include diabetes, thyroid issues, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Due to hormonal changes and fluid retention, it’s common for women to develop carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at BodaHealth
Traditional medical treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include splinting your wrist at night to keep it in a neutral position, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroid injections, and in severe cases, surgery to release the carpal tunnel entrapment.
Many people, however, prefer more natural and drug-free solutions in treating their carpal tunnel syndrome, and at BodaHealth, we’re able to provide you with a number of options.
-At BodaHealth, carpal tunnel syndrome is often treated effectively with injection therapies and acupuncture. Recent research suggests why acupuncture is so effective. In a study published in the journal Brain, researchers found that the subjects that were treated with acupuncture not only reported relief from pain, but imaging also found that the treatments remapped subjects’ brains to modify pain signals coming from their wrist. The researchers also found that acupuncture increased circulation to the wrist, where the needles were placed. This boost in circulation may contribute to helping the damaged nerves heal.
-You may also be prescribed therapeutic exercise, massage therapy or facial stretch at BodaHealth to treat your carpal tunnel syndrome. Our therapists can provide specific protocols to help you stretch, strengthen, and improve the movement of the nerve and tendons through your carpal tunnel space. In addition, the practitioners of Chinese medicine at BodaHealth are trained in a therapy called Tui Na, which incorporates acupressure points and pathways with healing bodywork.
-Nutrition plays a significant role in treating carpal tunnel syndrome. Scientists have found that a deficiency in vitamin D and the B vitamins, as well as certain nutrients, can contribute to developing carpal tunnel syndrome. At BodaHealth, our naturopathic doctors and holistic nutritionist are able to assess your nutritional status, prescribe the appropriate nutrients or supplements, and suggest a balanced diet focused on decreasing inflammation and supporting the healing process.
-Our Doctor of Osteopathy is skilled in treating carpal tunnel syndrome. Osteopaths provide hands-on protocols to reposition your muscles and joints. They use techniques such as applying gentle pressure, stretching, and resistance, to relieve restrictions and misalignments and promote circulation.
-At BodaHealth we also offer shockwave therapy as a treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Studies show that extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is extremely effective in reducing the pain and increasing the function in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be chronic and hamper your quality of life. If you struggle with this condition, contact BodaHealth today. Find out how we can help you, and let the healing begin!