What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness, tingling, weakness, and other problems in your hand because of pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. The median nerve and several tendons run from your forearm to your wrist through a small space called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve controls movement and feeling in your thumb and first three fingers (not your little finger).
Pressure on the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome. This pressure can come from swelling or irritation anywhere along the path of the nerve which originates in the lower neck area. Many things can cause this swelling, including:
- Illnesses such as, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.
- Making the same hand movements over and over, especially if the wrist is bent down (your hands lower than your wrists), or making the same wrist movements over and over.
- Neck problems
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain in the fingers or hand. Some people may have pain in their arm between their hand and their elbow.
Symptoms most often occur in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. If you have problems with your other fingers but your little finger is fine, this may be a sign that you have carpal tunnel syndrome. A different nerve gives feeling to the little finger.
You may first notice symptoms at night. You may be able to get relief by shaking your hand.
Mild symptoms usually can be treated with home care. You can:
- Stop activities that cause numbness and pain. Rest your wrist longer between activities.
- Ice your wrist for 10 to 15 minutes 1 or 2 times an hour.
- Visit your chiropractor to have your neck and wrist assessed
- Wear a wrist splint at night. This takes pressure off your median nerve.
The sooner you start treatment, the better your chances of stopping symptoms and preventing long-term damage to the nerve. Chiropractic care aims to remove the nerve stress from the source which may be coming from the neck. It’s important that the nerve is flowing freely from the neck to the wrist without irritation. Chiropractors can also adjust the carpal bones in the wrist which may also give relief. Most carpal tunnel problems will resolve without surgery.
To keep carpal tunnel syndrome from coming back, take care of your basic health. Stay at a healthy weight. Don’t smoke. Exercise to stay strong and flexible. If you have a long-term health problem, such as arthritis or diabetes, follow your doctor’s advice for keeping your condition under control.
You can also try to take good care of your wrists and hands:
- Try to keep your wrist in a neutral position.
- Use your whole hand—not just your fingers—to hold objects.
- When you type, keep your wrists straight, with your hands a little higher than your wrists. Relax your shoulders when your arms are at your sides.
- If you can, switch hands often when you repeat movements.
- Strengthen the muscles in your wrists and forearms
- Visit your chiropractor to improve neck range of motion and nerve flow
Carpal tunnel usually responds well to chiropractic care combined with lifestyle modifications.
If you have symptoms of numbness or tingling or decreased strength in your hands and arms, have a chiropractic consultation as soon as possible.