Have you ever been working at your desk and all of a sudden you feel a sharp, piercing pain shooting through your wrist and up your arm? Or maybe you have felt numbness or tingling in your hands but haven’t given it much thought. You could have carpal tunnel syndrome. The term is pretty well known and the syndrome is quite common, affecting close to 10 million Americans, but it’s important to know the facts.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, CTS, can occur in those who are pregnant, overweight, have medical conditions such as thyroid disease, diabetes, arthritis, or injuries such as fractures of the wrist. It is most common in woman over 50 who work in a manually demanding occupation. Repetitive work activities are a cause that is still debated but it is thought that some repetitive hand motions, especially those that involve vibratory motion, can worsen the symptoms. It is important for your health care provider to rule out all other cause of symptoms as many of them can be related to other conditions.
There are many treatment options available for CTS. If you suspect that you have CTS, you should begin treatment as soon as possible. Initial treatment usually involves resting the affected hand and wrist for at least two weeks, avoiding activities that worsen symptoms, and immobilizing the wrist in a splint to avoid further damage. In certain circumstances various drugs can ease the pain and swelling. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other the counter pain relievers may ease symptoms that have been present for a short time or have been caused by strenuous activity. Surgery is another option and is recommended only if symptoms last for more than 6 months.
If you don’t want to take medication or have surgery, there are alternative treatments available such as physical therapy, pain management, acupuncture, and chiropractic. Chiropractors treat CTS by using manipulation of the wrist, elbow, and upper spine, ultrasound therapy, and wrist supports. Studies have shown that those with CTS have significant improvements in several measures of strength, range of motion, and pain after receiving chiropractic treatment. A study compared the effects of chiropractic care with conservative medical care, among 91 people with CTS. Both groups experienced significant improvement in nerve function, finger sensation, and comfort. The researchers concluded that chiropractic treatment and conservative medical care are equally effective for people with carpal tunnel.
According to the National Institutes of Health, acupuncture is another viable option with those who have CTS. Studies suggest that acupuncture restores normal nerve function and can provide long-term relief of pain associated with the syndrome.
Physical therapy can also help gain relief from symptoms by helping to decrease inflammation and incorporating exercises to increase the strength of the muscles in the hand, wrist, arm, and back.
Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine has a team of experts who understand carpal tunnel syndrome and how to treat it effectively. Contact us for an appointment and learn more about how we can help you get relief.