If you are experiencing symptoms like pain, tingling, or weakness in one of your hands, you might have carpal tunnel syndrome. Suffering from it is especially plausible if you use your hands to perform the same motions and actions for hours per day.
The first thing to do when you suspect you have this condition is to see a doctor or specialist who can diagnose you and explain carpal tunnel syndrome to you. Then, you can decide which type of treatment is right for you.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Definition
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) defines carpal tunnel syndrome as “a common neurological disorder that occurs when the median nerve… becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.”
The median nerve runs from your arm, through your wrist, and into your hand. It enables you to feel and grip things with your fingers. However, it can only do this if the carpal tunnel that it passes through remains wide enough that nothing touches or impedes the nerve.
When the Carpal Tunnel Narrows
NINDS states that the most common reason the carpal tunnel narrows is due to swollen, irritated tendons in the wrist. Your tendons may become inflamed if you:
- Are experiencing hormonal changes due to menopause or pregnancy
- Suffer a wrist injury
- Spend long periods of time moving your hands in the same limited ways (e.g., typing, using a single tool)
- Frequently bend your wrist in unnatural positions while working or sleeping
- Have a condition that affects the bones, like arthritis
- Have a condition that affects the nerves, like diabetes
Having one or more of these risk factors can lead to the gradual development of symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, which include:
- A numb or tingling sensation in the wrist
- A feeling of weakness in the hand—as the condition worsens, you may start to drop things or be unable to maintain a tight grip
- Loss of feeling or dexterity
- Pain in the hand, fingers, or wrist
These symptoms may get worse at night and disrupt your sleep.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Talk to a medical professional, such as a chiropractor, before implementing any changes, as certain exercises or routines can increase your risk of developing a problem.
A chiropractor may recommend some or all of the following actions:
- Stretches and exercises: Learning how to move your wrist in the right ways can promote good nerve health and keep the carpal tunnel wide open.
- Changing up your routine: Instead of performing the same task for hours on end, break up repetitive tasks with rest periods or other activities.
- Wearing a splint: A splint can keep your wrist straight. If you are having trouble remembering not to bend your wrist too much, a splint can help you do so, especially at night.
You do not have to wait until you develop symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome to start taking care of your hands and wrists. In fact, starting healthy habits before symptoms appear can prevent problems and help you lead a better, more enjoyable life.
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
While internet research can give you a better idea of what condition you might be dealing with, only a medical professional who examines you personally can confirm any diagnosis.
Healthcare providers have many tools at their disposal for determining whether a patient has carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
- A physical examination of the patient
- Being able to speak with the patient about their symptoms and lifestyle
- The patient’s medical records, which can tell them about any prior hand or wrist issues
- Lab tests, such as x-rays
- Imaging tests, such as MRIs
- Electrodiagnostic tests, such as nerve conduction studies
Your chiropractor may not have to perform all of these tests to diagnose you. They will, however, want to be very sure of your condition before attempting to treat it.
Remember that a diagnostic appointment is a two-way street. Your chiropractor will ask you questions about your condition, and you have the right to ask any questions you have, such as:
- Have you treated carpal tunnel syndrome patients before?
- How long will it take to treat me if I do have carpal tunnel syndrome?
- How will this condition affect my career?
- Has my wrist suffered any permanent damage?
- How much is the treatment likely to cost?
- What happens if these symptoms are caused by something other than carpal tunnel syndrome?
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you already have carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, it is very important that you seek treatment as soon as possible. As Johns Hopkins Medicine warns, without treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome will worsen over time, leading to chronic pain and permanent disability.
Your treatment options may vary depending on your age, health, and other factors. Chiropractic care can ease pain through the following methods:
- Massage therapy: Unlike an ordinary massage, a massage performed by a qualified therapist can make you feel better and encourages faster healing.
- Chiropractic adjustments: Chiropractic adjustments involve manipulating the painful joints in a way that encourages them to return to a healthier alignment.
- Resistance training: If carpal tunnel syndrome or an associated treatment (e.g., surgery) leaves your wrist weak, physical therapy can enable you to regain your prior strength and range of motion.
A chiropractor can also work with you to implement the lifestyle changes discussed above. In extreme situations, you may have to consider changing your occupation, especially if your boss refuses to grant you reasonable accommodations to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from returning.
We Can Explain Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to You
Are you seeking a mild, gentle treatment for your carpal tunnel syndrome? Let Naples Community Injury Center explain to you what carpal tunnel syndrome is and how we can reduce symptoms associated with it. Contact us by dialing (239) 631-5445 today. We can schedule your first appointment for the earliest possible date.