Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it may sound like a Swedish underground motorway malfunction, but it is actually a painful disorder of the hand. It is a common problem for pregnant women; and women are three times more likely to suffer from the condition than men. Females have a smaller carpal tunnel than males. What is a carpal tunnel? It is a narrow passageway in our wrist, that opens into the hand. This tunnel has the bones within the wrist beneath it and the transverse carpal ligament above it. The median nerve traverses through the carpal tunnel; and it is pressure on the large median nerve which causes the numbness and/or pain associated with the condition.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
If swelling occurs in the many tendons running through the carpal tunnel, this, then, can compress the nerve and result in pain. Repetitive hand movements and arthritis can, also, cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The condition can affect one or both hands. In advanced cases, the thumb can be rendered immobile and sufferers cannot adequately grasp objects. Symptoms can include: numbness, pins and needle sensations, severe pain at night, wrist pain, referred arm and shoulder pain, and weakness in the hand and fingers.
Carpal Pain & Pregnancy
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can result in fluid retention, which, then, can compress the nerves. The good news for pregnant women is that the condition, generally, recedes after they have given birth. Treatment options, apart from grinning and bearing it (like much involved in pregnancy and child birth), are rest, physiotherapy and wearing splints on the affected hand at night.
Arthritis & Repetitive Strain Injuries
Carpal tunnel Syndrome can be caused by certain types of arthritis and by repetitive hand strain for those who are involved in work of this nature. Chefs and kitchen hands, musicians, cashiers, assembly line workers, dressmakers, and hair dressers can all, commonly suffer from the condition. Women aged between 40 and 60 years are particularly likely to develop the condition. Rapid weight gain, can, also, be a factor.
The non-surgical treatments include: lots of rest for the affected hand, chiropractic treatments & physiotherapy, wearing a splint on the wrist and hand at night, diuretic medications to reduce fluid retention within the body, and corticosteroid injections to reduce the swelling.
Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome involves the hand and wrist, and the surgeon cuts the ligament to reduce pressure on the median nerve. The body heals the cut, re-joining the ligament and the resultant scar tissue is less likely to compress the nerve. Pain associated with the condition should dissipate, either soon after or over time. Rest for the hand for a number of weeks, post-surgery is recommended.
Chiropractic Treatments for Carpal Tunnel
It is usually advisable to seek out non-surgical treatments for such things as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, as surgery is best left as a last resort. The compression of the nerve does not always happen at the wrist, as nerve roots are located at the spinal cord near the lower part of the neck. Treatment of the spinal cord, can, therefore, sometimes alleviate the condition. Less invasive treatments like chiropractic joint manipulation or mobilisation, stretching, and massage can be effective. In some instances, hand and wrist pain are not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at all, but caused by something else, and may respond to spinal, tendon and joint therapy treatments.
Changing Behaviours at Work & Home
If your hand and wrist pain is caused by repetitive strain injuries, through by too much keyboard typing or something similar, then behavioural modifications may be called for. Sometimes, it is the way that you type or do the work, that’s causing the problem. Too much tension around the activity, plus, poor diet, high nicotine, caffeine or alcohol use can also be exacerbating things. Behaviour and lifestyle changes can, often, be of immense help in alleviating this condition. Meditation, yoga and regular exercise are all recommended to remove stress and to help people learn new ways of being.