What’s The Deal With Carpal Tunnel?

Posted on: July 1st, 2019

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that usually presents itself as numbness or tingling in the hand and fingers.

Why does carpal tunnel happen?

The carpal tunnel is created by a group of bones in the wrist and a ligament that connects them together. This ligament holds the bones together and allows for tendons, blood vessels, and a nerve (known as the median nerve) to travel through this area.

The median nerve goes from the neck, all the way down the arm, through the elbow, down to the wrist, and into the hand.

When there’s a change in how the carpal tunnel bones are supported, a problem known as carpal tunnel syndrome arises.

Carpal tunnel syndrome shows up as an irritation to the median nerve at the level of the carpal tunnel. It causes numbness or pain in the first 3 ½ fingers of the hand, particularly on the palm side.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is common and can be painful and debilitating. Last year there were half a million cases of carpal tunnel syndrome in the United States alone.

There is a type of testing that can be done called needle electric myelogram, in which needles are placed throughout the arm to determine how the nerve energy is getting through your arm and into your hand. It can determine if there may be a breakdown in communication.

The most common treatments people seek for carpal tunnel are physical therapy, bracing, or surgery.

Carpal tunnel surgery actually releases the tunnel in your wrist. But once it’s released or changed, it cannot go back to normal.

Also, that surgery alone last year was over $2 billion in procedures.

Whether the surgery is a success or not really depends on the individual’s definition of “success.” Most medical doctors may consider the surgery a success if the hand restores back to normal. But they aren’t considering if you’ll still have numbness or tingling in your wrist.

Anyone thinking of having carpal tunnel surgery needs to get checked by a chiropractor, particularly one that focuses on posture and function.  The chiropractor will make sure that all of the strength from your nerves is getting out to your hands, arms, and wrists.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of carpal tunnel, there are some things you can try on your own before seeking further help.

How you can treat carpal tunnel at home?

Make sure you have a proper workspace setup.

Since the cause of carpal tunnel usually comes from something you’re doing in the workplace, such as a repetitive motion or activity, the first thing you should evaluate is your workspace set-up.

Here are a couple of things to look at:

Your desk chair should have the ability to adjust its height, up or down. It should have lumbar support and armrests on both sides. It should also easily fit under your desk.

The computer monitor should be straight in front of you.  The top of your monitor should be at eye level. The keyboard should also be directly in front of you, lined up with the monitor, and the computer mouse should be shifted off to your right side.

While typing, your elbows should be at 90 degrees, your shoulders vertical to your ears, with your wrists resting on the desk. This is an important part of reducing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Use a headset if you’re on the phone frequently, to keep from holding your phone between your ear and shoulder.

Also, consider where you place your documents while working. You may need a desk with a deeper space.

See the video on this for a visual example of a proper workspace.

Try introducing supplements for inflammation.

Since inflammation is one of the main causes that trigger carpal tunnel syndrome, you may want to introduce some supplements that are known to fight inflammation.

Here are a couple of supplements Dr. Gregg recommends:

  • Fish oils, specifically OmegaGenics EPA-DHA 500. Fish oils are massively powerful at reducing systemic inflammation, which is inflammation throughout your entire body.

They work by mimicking the cell lining of every cell in the body, so they’re really powerful in helping your body to work more efficiently.

A baseline for most patients is 2,000 mg per day of high potency, high effectiveness essential fatty acids. If you have inflammation, you can go as high as 5,000 mg per day, but we recommend that you work with a professional to guide you on the dosage.

  • Inflavonoid Intensive Care is a supplement for an acute injury you may have. It works systemically to fight inflammation in your body.

You can generally take 2 tablets, up to 4 times a day. It’s easy on the stomach and gut lining, and can really help to reduce systemic inflammation.

It’s also important to mention that there’s a lot of talk about vitamin B complexes and how they’re great for nerve issues (like carpal tunnel). But if you’re on a high-potency multi-vitamin/multi-mineral, you should already be getting all of the B vitamins you need.

If you are deficient in vitamin B, we need to go a step back and look at your lifestyle and what you’re eating. This takes a bit more work than just popping a pill.

There’s no pill, lotion, or potion that’s going to fix problems that are physiologic. We need to find out the cause of the problem.

If you’d like a recommendation for a multi-vitamin, the one that Dr. Gregg recommends for most patients (and also takes himself) is Wellness Essentials Active Formula.

Exercises you can try at home

If you have symptoms of carpal tunnel, there are some exercises you can try at home. To see a visual of these exercises being performed, see the video.

  • Exercise #1, “the stop.”

  1. Put your hand out like you’re making a stop sign.
  2. Use your other hand to grab your fingers and pull them back toward you.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Release
  • Exercise #2

  1. Drop your wrist down in the opposite direction.
  2. Keep your elbows straight and arm at shoulder height.
  3. With your other hand, pull your hand and fingers toward you.
  4. Keep your fingers flattened down. You should feel a pull in your wrist.
  5. Hold for 5 seconds.
  6. Release
  • Exercise #3

  1. This exercise requires a rubber band, which you’ll place around your fingers.
  2. Open up your fingers and hold for 5 seconds.
  3. Relax
  4. Repeat this 10 times, and repeat at least 3 times a day.

 

If any of these exercises cause any pain, numbness, or tingling then stop the exercise. This would mean that you need more help than just at-home work.

If you are having symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, and changes to these activities or at home treatments aren’t working, you may have some deeper things going on and should seek help from a chiropractor.

What can Align Wellness Center do for you?

Chiropractic care specializes in understanding these deeper issues and finding out what is actually going on. We develop plans to get rid of the problem, not just for the short term, but forever.

Here at Align Wellness Center, we have a unique practice called spinal remodeling, which works because many times the problem isn’t just in the wrist, it stems from somewhere “upstream.”

This is why many carpal tunnel surgeries don’t work. It’s because the spine sends energy out the shoulder, down the arm, and to the hand. Nerves can wind up getting irritated in any of these places: the neck, shoulders, elbows, or hands.

If you have ever had tension in your shoulders or neck, and then you get wrist symptoms, it’s important to look in both places to understand what’s going on.

Here in our office, we study the spine and know that from the side, the spine should have a certain curve to it. Without the proper curve, the nerves that come through the spine are affected all the way down to your hands. (See the video for a visual explanation on this.)

If these nerves are not improved or corrected, your hand will not improve with other treatments. Although you may get symptomatic relief for a period of time, it will come back and might be in the wrist, elbow, shoulder, or even on the other side.

One tool that we sometimes use here in our office is called a Denneroll. This is a device that’s been developed to help restore the proper curve in your spine. Once it’s prescribed to patients, we instruct them on how to use it and where to place it so that the body is able to restore the spine’s normal curve.

Another thing we do for carpal tunnel here in our office is to give an adjustment of the entire spine to make sure that the energy from the brain can get down through the arm to the hand.

We need to make sure there are no kinks in the wrist, elbow, or shoulder. We take patients through a series of tests to rule that out, checking the elbows, wrists, shoulders, and hands.

We make adjustments where needed, using adjustment devices if necessary. We can even make adjustments in the hands when needed to help redevelop strength and connection of those bones in the wrist.

These adjustments can be used to make sure the nerves are flowing easily and they’re not inflamed. This is to make sure you work better and feel better, without those symptoms, and without relying on medications or surgery.

Sometimes what seems like carpal tunnel syndrome may actually be something else called double crush syndrome. Double crush syndrome is often confused with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Double Crush Syndrome

The median nerve has a long route to travel to get all the way down to the carpal tunnel. There are several different areas in the body where that nerve can get irritated, such as the neck, brachial plexus, shoulder, elbow, or wrist.

As the area of the nerve becomes more irritated, less and less energy, information, and strength get down to the hand.

The inflammation within the carpal tunnel winds up being the “last straw that breaks the camel’s back,” causing your hand to get those sensations.

Many people wind up going through physical therapy, try at-home work, wearing braces, changing desk space, or even surgery to undergo carpal tunnel release, still experiencing no relief.

When you have symptoms of carpal tunnel, it’s imperative to not just look at the wrist but also to look at the elbow, shoulder, and cervical spine. It’s important to find out if there’s a double crush occurring.

If this is going on in both hands, you need to have this looked at.

The primary person that looks at all of these factors and determines if there’s a double crush going on is a chiropractor.

Chiropractors look at the whole body, rather than just looking at one area, which may happen if you go to a medical doctor or orthopedist, especially if you see an orthopedist that focuses on the wrist and hand.

If you or someone you know are experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, whether you’ve tried other treatments or not, contact Align Wellness Center and let us help you to find the cause of your problem and develop a treatment plan for you.

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