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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve is pinched or inflamed. The median nerve is located just above the wrist. The carpal tunnel is at the base of the palm of your hand and is made of bones, tendons, and a thick ligament that surround the median nerve. The pinching is a result of sustained activities like typing, hammering, or pushing. Many believe that constant repetitive use of the hand causes the problem. Although an injury such as a broken wrist or a dislocated hand bone harms the nerve as well. In some cases the carpal tunnel is smaller in some peoples’ hands and leads to a higher likelihood of CTS occurring.
CTS injuries have a range of similar symptoms including pain, numbness, a tingling sensation, and loss of grip strength. Even though numbness feels like it occurs in the entire hand, normally it is only in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Pay attention to where the numbness occurs, as it will help your doctor identify the specific nerve that is damaged. Often you may wake up with a painfully numb feeling in your hand. You may drop small items from the weakness in the wrist. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your chiropractor as soon as possible. The earlier CTS is treated, the quicker the recovery.
CTS is the most common nerve problem affecting peoples' hands and it can happen to anyone. However, the majority of affected people include women between 40 and 55 years old. Sometimes young women get carpal tunnel symptoms while pregnant. Golfers, secretaries, carpenters, weightlifters, and meat packers also get carpal tunnel syndrome. CTS has become the most significant medical problem affecting workers at the turn of the century, accounting for nearly 60% of work related injuries.
CTS can be painful and debilitating but early carpal tunnel treatment can lead to a quicker recovery. Chiropractic manipulation has shown to be the most effective method of carpal tunnel treatment because chiropractors are experts in the nervous system. Your chiropractor will perform an x-ray or an electromyography study to determine the extent of the injury. While some physicians will prescribe medications or inject cortico-steroids to temporarily relieve pain and swelling, it does not treat the problem. Some doctors might recommend surgery in extreme cases.
However, surgery can scar the ligament and will result in it becoming weakened and ultimately, symptoms will reoccur. Be sure to consult your chiropractor prior to surgery, as it should be your last resort. Regardless of the treatment, full recovery will only come about by avoiding stressful situations and changing work habits. Wearing a wrist support often helps to relieve symptoms, even while sleeping.
Vary your daily activities so you don’t keep the same amount of pressure on your wrist all day. Keep your wrist straight when grasping items. During the day, perform some stretching exercises or take frequent breaks. It is also important to keep good posture and wrist position when working. You might want to try wearing fingerless gloves so you hands are warm and flexible. All of these preventative measures will help you avoid the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.