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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most expensive of all work-related injuries. Over a patient’s lifetime, a carpal tunnel patient pays about $30,000 in medical bills and decreased hours of productivity from work absences due to the symptoms of CTS.

Who gets CTS?

CTS typically occurs in adults, with women 3 times more likely to develop it than men. The dominant hand is usually affected first, and the pain is typically severe. CTS is especially common in assembly-line workers in manufacturing, sewing, finishing, cleaning, meatpacking, and similar industries. There has also been an increase seen in people that have excessive computer use.

What Is CTS?

CTS is a problem of the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand. CTS occurs when the median nerve gets compressed in the carpal tunnel which is a narrow tunnel at the wrist made up of bones and soft tissues, such as nerves, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. The compression may result in pain, weakness, and/or numbness in the hand and wrist, which radiates up into the forearm. CTS is the most common of the “entrapment neuropathies”, which is a compression or trauma of the body’s nerves in the hands or feet.

What Are the Symptoms?

Burning, tingling, itching, and/or numbness in the palm of the hand and thumb, index, and middle fingers are most common. Some people with CTS say that their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent. Since many people sleep with flexed wrists, the symptoms often first appear while sleeping. As symptoms worsen, they may feel tingling during the day. In addition, weakened grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist or grasp small objects. Some people develop wasting of the muscles at the base of the thumb. Some are unable to distinguish hot from cold by touch.

How Is It Diagnosed?

CTS should be diagnosed and treated early. A standard physical examination of the hands, arms, shoulders, and neck can help determine if your symptoms are related to daily activities or to an underlying disorder. Dr. Gibson at RTP Chiropractic in Morrisville NC can use other specific tests to try to produce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The most common are:

• Pressure-provocative test. A cuff placed at the front of the carpal tunnel is inflated, followed by direct pressure on the median nerve.

• Carpal compression test. Moderate pressure is applied with both thumbs directly on the carpal tunnel and underlying median nerve at the transverse carpal ligament.

What Is the Treatment for CTS?

Initial therapy includes:

• Resting the affected extremity.

• Avoiding activities that may aggervate symptoms

• Immobilizing or splinting the wrist in a splint to avoid further damage from twisting or bending

• Applying cool packs to help reduce swelling from inflammation.

Some medications can help with pain control and inflammation. Studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplements may relieve CTS symptoms.

Chiropractic joint manipulation and mobilization of the wrist and hand, stretching and strengthening exercises, soft-tissue mobilization techniques, and even yoga can be helpful.

Occasionally, patients whose symptoms fail to respond to conservative care may require surgery. Dr. Gibson works with surgeons and will refer patients that may need a surgical consult.

How Can CTS Be Prevented?

The American Chiropractic Association recommends the following tips:

•Perform on-the-job conditiong, such as stretching and light exercises.

•Take frequent rest breaks.

•Wear splints to help keep the wrists straight.

•Use fingerless gloves to help keep the hands warm and flexible.

•Use correct posture and wrist position.

•To minimize workplace injuries, jobs can be rotated among workers. Employers can also develop programs in ergonomics the process of adapting workplace conditions and job demands to workers’ physical capabilities.the carpal tunnel.

Dr. Gibson at RTP Chiropractic in Morrisville NC is highly trained and skilled to diagnosis the underlying cause your carpal tunnel syndrome. He will develop treatment recommendations as well as home instructions to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. If you have any questions about the treatment options for these types of conditions, don’t hesitate to call the office at anytime.