Did you know that the carpals are the technical name for the bones you feel when you touch your wrist? The carpal tunnel – a narrow, rigid passageway of ligaments and bones is found in the wrist, at the base of the hand. The median nerve and tendons are housed inside the carpal tunnel, so when you’re suffering with wrist pain, the carpal tunnel may very well be the culprit. It controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (excluding the little finger), as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand, which allows finger and thumb movement. When the median nerve becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist, it does not function properly. Your hand may fall asleep or you may experience a “pins and needles” sensation in your fingers, which is one of the quintessential carpal tunnel symptoms.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition resulting from increased pressure on the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the wrist. If the carpal tunnel is too small or the tendons within the tunnel become larger due to inflammation, the median nerve will be compressed causing wrist pain. Many factors contribute to pressure on the meridian nerve, such as health conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, hormonal disorders, diabetes or fluid retention from pregnancy); prolonged repetitive flexing and extending of the tendons in the hands and wrists; injury to the wrist or a slim wrist with a narrower than average carpal tunnel. Additional risk factors include obesity, heredity and sex, and females are three times as likely as men are to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
In most cases, this condition begins slowly, with a fuzzy aching in the wrist that extends to the hand or forearm. Numbness and tingling (paresthesias) in the fingers (thumb and index, middle or ring fingers) or hand may follow. This sensation becomes increasingly apparent when griping a steering wheel, newspaper or telephone, playing a guitar, typing or when waking up in the morning. The natural reaction may be to “shake-out” the hand. Unfortunately, without proper carpal tunnel treatment, pain can radiate from the wrist up the arm to the shoulder or from the wrist down into the palm or fingers, a weakness in the hand (causing objects to drop) can develop, sleeping becomes difficult or nerve and muscle damage occur.
At AIMS, we believe an accurate diagnosis is crucial when you’re suffering from carpal tunnel symptoms, because other health conditions – such as tendonitis or bursitis necessitate a different treatment program. Diagnosis begins with a visual and manual inspection of the hand. A wrist range-of-motion test and strength evaluation of the hand and fingers may follow, along with a chiropractic examination of the neck, shoulder, arm and hand. Further diagnostic tools offered include x-rays, Nerve Conduction Study (NCS) and Electromyography (EMG). A Nerve Conduction Study evaluates the speed of nerve impulses as they travel along a nerve to determine if there is nerve damage, the extent of the damage and whether nerves have been destroyed. An EMG distinguishes between a muscle and nerve disorder. It uses nerve stimulation to evaluate electrical activity within selected muscle fibers. EMG measures muscle response and detects muscle damage and disease.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treatment generally begins conservatively in patients with mild or moderate symptoms. Advanced or severe carpal tunnel syndrome may require surgery. If recommended, physical therapy after surgery can reduce swelling, stiffness and wrist pain, while helping to restore strength.
An ounce of prevention is always the first recommendation. Make home and workstation modifications; avoiding smoking, maintain an appropriate weight; exercise regularly and commit to a monthly chiropractic maintenance program to help prevent the onset of carpal tunnel symptoms. Simple daily exercises are key to prevention. These exercises are designed by our physical therapists to stretch the forearm muscles and reduce tension on tendons that pass through the carpal tunnel. However, if mild symptoms begin, the first line of carpal tunnel treatment is to wear a wrist brace to reduce nerve irritation and keep the wrist in a neutral position.
If symptoms continue or worsen, chiropractic manipulation of the wrist, elbow, and upper spine; ultrasound therapy; contrast hydrotherapy (alternating hot and cold water applications); acupuncture, nutritional recommendations and supplementation may be suggested. If warranted, Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs), Prescription Pain Medication Intervention or Cortisone Injections may decrease inflammation and start the healing process.
If you are seeking Carpal Tunnel Syndrome remedies for wrist pain or looking for carpal tunnel treamtent in NJ, we can help. Our Team of Board Certified Medical Physicians, Pain Management Specialists, Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Acupuncturist and Nutritionists have served the healthcare needs of the community for over 35 years!
Call New Jersey’s own Alternative Integrated Medical Services today at 732-254-5553 and receive a FREE Initial Consultation. Our goal is to provide the most advanced and compassionate pain relief. Our Team of Experts and friendly staff at your local East Brunswick, NJ AIMS Clinic, will help you reduce or eliminate pain and improve function. As our patient, we will teach you how to regain your health with our revolutionary new treatment program.