Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a disorder that results from injury to the median nerve as it passes from the forearm into the hand through a narrow passageway in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. As the nerve passes through the tunnel, it is susceptible to repetitive stress injury (RSI) or overuse injury.

Joints of the body can lose their normal motion and position. When joint function is impaired, there is a reduced range of motion, inflammation, calcium buildup and scar tissue. This can be caused by repetitive motions, improper sitting, overextension, slips, falls, accidents, and other causes.

Awareness of these types of problems has become more common with terms like “tennis elbow”, “runner’s knee”, “frozen shoulder”, and “carpal tunnel syndrome”. Traditional treatment includes the wearing of splints to control excess movement, over the counter or prescription drugs to reduce inflammation and pain, and a more drastic approach: surgery. A more common sense approach is the natural way. A combination of chiropractic, supplementation and physical therapy is a much more effective way to treat CTS as well as many other repetitive motion injuries

Symptoms

 

  • A tingling or numb feeling in the hand, usually just in the thumb and first three fingers.

  • Shooting pains in the wrist or forearm, and sometimes extending to the shoulder, neck and chest, or foot.

  • Difficulty clenching the fist or grasping small objects.

  • Sometimes, dry skin and fingernail deterioration.

These symptoms are noticed especially after the regular workday, or when you’re ready to go to sleep, or on wakening. Left untreated, the symptoms progress to persistent pain and aching in the hand, that can extend to the elbow and shoulder. Often, the earliest sign of CTS is failure to feel textures or touch. CTS can eventually lead to the inability to grip things firmly and to significant weakness and wasting of the muscles of the hand controlled by the median nerve. If you experience similar tingling and numbness in your feet, ankles and lower legs, the condition is called tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Many people think CTS came in with the computer keyboard. In fact, injuries to the carpal tunnel and other major nerve passages have been around a long time; but with so many fingers tapping away at computer keyboards, the problem is more widespread than ever. The same symptoms can develop from any repetitive manual activity.

CTS and other forms of RSI are most common in middle age and tend to affect women more than men, especially if the women are overweight, pregnant or menopausal. Whether the causes are systemic or the result of repetitive stress, most injuries to the carpal and tarsal tunnels are easily prevented and entirely correctable if recognized early. The critical factor in injuries involving repetitive stress is for the patient to stop or change the activity that brings on the discomfort. Failure to do so can result in permanent, irreversible damage to the nerves and muscles in the hand, wrist or other parts of the body.