If you have ever experienced carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), you are familiar with the numbness and tingling that it can cause. CTS is thought to be one of the most common nerve disorders, with some estimates putting the number of sufferers as high as 10 million. It begins with nighttime tingling that can disturb sleep. You may also feel like your fingers are swollen when they are not and it may seem as though the fingers don’t want to work very well. As time goes on, you may feel tingling during the day and a lost strength in the muscles near the thumb. Advanced CTS causes pain to shoot up the hand and may extend as far as the shoulder.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury caused by too tight muscles placing pressure on the nerves that pass through the carpal tunnel, which is a passageway located in the bones of the inside of the wrist. The problem with CTS is that the nerves can be trapped anywhere along the arm, and there may even be multiple locations of entrapment. For this reason, treatment should involve tracing the nerve all the way to the neck in order to ensure that every instance of entrapment is resolved.
Entrapment of the nerves in the carpal tunnel is caused by repetitive tasks requiring forceful movement of the wrist. These repetitive and forceful movements can cause swelling and inflammation of the tendons, which places pressure on the nerves, causing the numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain associated with CTS. In other cases, a shortened muscles may be placing excess pressure on the nerve.
While CTS is most often associated with long hours working at a computer, people who work in manufacturing or spend a lot of time using small hand tools are also at high risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Women aged 30 to 60 are more likely than men to experience CTS. The condition has been linked to a variety of health conditions, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, connective tissue disease, obesity, menopause, and arthritis, and may be more likely to show up during pregnancy. Excessive use of caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol can also contribute to CTS.
The earlier CTS is diagnosed and treated, the easier and more effective treatment will be. If you are experiencing symptoms of CTS, you should see a doctor or chiropractor. Diagnosis will involve testing the strength of the affected arm in a variety of resting and functional positions to help the chiropractor identify the exact locations that need to be treated in order to restore full function to the nerve.
Meanwhile, early treatment of CTS involves resting the affected hand and wrist and avoiding repetitive movements that causes the symptoms. If you cannot avoid these movements, you can use a splint to immobilize the wrist and keep it in proper alignment. Rest and immobilization can also help to prevent CTS if you have a job or hobby that involves repetitive movements that may contribute to the condition. You can also apply ice packs to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
If rest, immobilization, and ice do not provide sufficient relief, a chiropractor may be able to help.In some cases of CTS spinal misalignments may contribute to symptoms. A chiropractor can manipulate the spine, arm, and wrist to bring them into proper alignment and release the trapped nerve.
A chiropractor may also utilize ultrasound therapy that can penetrate deep tissue to relax muscles and reduce inflammation. Other options include acupuncture, stimulation of the lymphatic system, meridians, or nerve pathways, and an anti inflammatory diet.
A chiropractor may also recommend exercises to help increase strength and flexibility, or supportive devices to help keep the rest in proper alignment. These exercises are specifically designed for your specific situation, so it is important to follow the exercise regimen exactly.
To learn more about treatment of CTS or to discuss your symptoms, call 03 9095 7990.
Clues to the location of the problem.
Does the ache, pain or weakness occur during a specific movement? Does it occur after you do the same motion many times? Is there a position that makes it better? The answers to these questions can help determine the potential areas or area where the nerve can be adversely affected and help to determine what tests need to be done to isolate the problem.
Accurate muscle testing performed by a Professional Applied Kinesiologist with extremities in different positions can help to diagnose the problem. For example, the muscles of your hand may test strong in a relaxed position. But, by putting your hand in a functional position, like pushing up from a chair, the muscles may weaken. Specific testing gets specific results. A hidden problem in the wrist where the nerves are trapped can be revealed by the slightest adjustment to testing. In other words, rotating your forearm may uncover a problem at the elbow that is trapping the same nerve, and reaching behind you causing the hand to go weak indicates yet another area of nerve entrapment.
To correct these problems, you first have to isolate and identify each of the areas where the nerve is entrapped.
The nerve could be stretched or impinged upon by a short or a weak muscle. To treat these conditions, an accurate diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. Trouble opening a jar indicates weak hand muscles. When pulling the shoulders back and raising the chest cage results in the hand becoming stronger, it indicates the nerves are trapped in the outer portion of the chest under one of the pectoral muscles.
To correct this condition, two things must be done. First, the shortened muscle must be stretched and, second, the inhibited muscles of the upper back and shoulder that would normally oppose the action of the shortened pectoral muscle must be strengthened by restoring muscle tone with applied kinesiology methods.
One mistake commonly made is exercising muscles that do not function properly. Often this further injures the muscles, which only become weaker.
Here the cause of the under functioning muscle must be addressed. This might be due to trauma to the muscle itself or possibly a problem with the spine that results in the muscle inhibition. After correction, exercise of the muscle may be needed with muscle testing used to determine the optimal exercise for the muscle and to monitor your progress.
In all of these cases, the stretching or the entrapment of the nerve leads to inflammation. There are both positive and negative factors that can affect the healing rate of the nerve. Your diet can contain both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory elements and the ratios of the nutrients may need to be addressed.
The tools of Applied Kinesiology allow us to examine and find the the location of entrapment and its’ cause, test for both positive and negative factors in the diet to include possible nutritional supplementation to speed healing.
Finally, some lifestyle changes may be needed. These could include things like the types of shoes you wear in foot entrapments, sleep positions, pillow height, or postural changes as in how you sit at work, at home, or driving the car.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Common Cause of Wrist and Hand Pain
The carpal tunnel of the wrist, is composed of eight small bones forming 2 rows in an arch, and a ligament stretching from one end to the other like a roof. The space between the roof and the arch is forms the tunnel through which travels arteries, veins, lymphatic vessels, nine tendons coated in a specialized synovial sheath, and the median nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful condition due to chronic entrapment of the median nerve at the wrist that leads to neuropathy. The condition can refer pain to the hand and fingers, the wrist itself or up the arm. It has been categorized variously as repetitive stress injury (RSI), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) and repetitive use injury (RUI).
Your applied kinesiology practitioner is skilled in testing each of the muscles surrounding the wrist and hand, as well as the muscles up the arm and into the shoulder and neck. All muscles in the region connect through soft tissue fascial planes. An imbalance anywhere along this chain can cause carpal tunnel symptoms.
Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers. Some carpal tunnel sufferers say their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent. The symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during the night, since many people sleep with flexed wrists. A person with carpal tunnel syndrome may wake up feeling the need to “shake out” the hand or wrist. As symptoms worsen, people might feel tingling during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks.
Predisposing factors include: diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, and heavy manual work or work with vibrating tools. Falling forward landing on the hands is another common cause. In chronic and/or untreated cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away. Some people are unable to tell between hot and cold by touch.”
Conservative medical treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome consists of splinting and immobilizing the wrist, anti-inflammatory or steroid medications to reduce inflammation and swelling that compresses the nerve and massage or stretching exercises.
Applied kinesiology looks broadly at many inter-related factors called the five factors of the IVF. Acupuncture meridian points, nerve pathways, lymphatics, craniosacral and nutrition may play a part in the normal healing of these structures.
In some cases, vitamin B6 may have a role in causing chronic pain according to the NIH. Doses of up to 100 to 200mg per day may alleviate the condition. Vitamin B6 may raise pain threshold levels and this may make the pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome seem less severe. Excessive intake of vitamin B-6 from supplements can have damaging effects, resulting in peripheral neuropathy, so please have this evaluated by your AK specialist.
Try these screening tests at home:
Tinel’s Sign: Tap wrist.
Phalen’s Sign: Bend wrist 90 degrees: hold for three minutes.
These tests are positive for carpal tunnel syndrome if they result in tingling or pain.
If either of these test ellicit the symptoms described, seek further testing and appropriate treatment.
When these tests are positive, carpal tunnel syndrome typically responds rapidly to the applied kinesiology approach. Nerve entrapment can have many causes; x-rays, MRI, or blood tests may be necessary for an exact diagnosis.
Even if these tests are not positive and you have wrist discomfort or weakness, call for an appointment with your local AK practitioner at 03 9095 7990.
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