Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has hand and wrist symptoms that range from tingling and numbness, to pain. Some occupations see more of this disease than others. People who use vibratory hand tools and those who engage in repetitive flexion motions of the wrist seem to be at greatest risk. Computer workers and typists can also develop symptoms.
It is a lesser known fact that individuals with neck injuries such as whiplash can also develop Carpal Tunnel Symptoms. This is because the nerve is irritated or compressed in the spine and those nerves eventually travel to the arm, wrist and hand. If the bony tunnel of the wrist is also narrowed, then a double-crush injury has occurred.
Occasionally Carpal Tunnel Symptoms can occur in patients with diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Although these diseases are rarer, it is important to rule them out with a proper diagnosis prior to beginning any treatment program.
So what are options for treatment? Medical doctors will typically use drugs to decrease inflammation and block pain signals. If this doesn’t work, the patient may be prescribed a splint or brace to prevent wrist movements while the nerve heals. Surgery is sometimes done when these medical treatments are ineffective. The surgery is designed to open up the carpal tunnel and release compression of the nerve.
If or when you come to our office, both a wrist and spinal examination will be performed to see if a double-crush injury is present. The nerves can be affected by subluxation of a wrist bone (there are twelve of them), which can narrow the carpal tunnel. In a similar manner, an abnormal position of a neck vertebra will cause the nerve to be irritated. X-rays are usually needed of the wrist and hand to see if there are any misalignments of the joints and to rule out other diseases, such as fracture. This is especially important if you have suffered a trauma to the wrist, such as a fall. X-rays of the spine are also indicated to see the spinal structures and determine if this is a cause of the wrist or hand symptoms. If you have had trauma to your neck in the past, this should be communicated to a doctor.
It’s important to consider conservative options first before contemplating wrist surgery. Some patients prefer a non-drug approach to health and do not want to simply mask the pain symptoms. Also, long-term consumption of anti-inflammatory drugs can have side effects such as stomach bleeding. You will need a thorough examination to see if you are a good candidate for chiropractic care.