Identifying And Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is pain that is characterized as mild to intense wrist pain. It can be debilitating if left untreated or corrective action is not taken. The cardinal symptoms to look for are increased night time pain and pain that gets better when wringing the hands. Generally it occurs due to increased size (inflammation, cyst etc.) of the contents housed within the carpal tunnel OR decreased size (injury, compression or inflammation) of the tunnel itself. The compartment includes the median nerve. The median nerve has both, motor and sensory innervation. In most people, the sensory portion of the median nerve branches off just before entering the tunnel, so the patient will retain the ability to sense stimulus such as heat and pain. However, the motor branch enters the tunnel and if compression occurs one may have reduced motor skills, and in chronic cases, reduced finger mobility and muscle wasting may occur.
Why this is happening? Often this is a condition that is related to overuse. It may be job related due to repetitive motion, such as screwdriver turning, or may be sports related, such as frequent cycling. Repetitive use is happening more with computer use and cell phone use. Carpal Tunnel is seen in younger ages than previous due to these technologies. Certain Metabolic disorders such as diabetes are at higher risk of developing carpal tunnel. Pregnant women are also at increased risk during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
What can be done? First, one requires a complete assessment by a medical doctor to rule out potential serious conditions and confirm carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis. If all is well and you have read this far it means you have been left, like many others, to become your own healer. I recommend performing opposing muscle actions as soon as possible. I have had great success with patients who are proactive in performing exercises OPPOSITE to the repetitive action that instigated the pain. Physiologically, these exercises are balancing the muscles, flexors and extensors, etc. and relieving pain. An osteopathic structural assessment is a starting point, followed by treatment using ligamentous, fascial and stretching techniques with the major goal of relieving pain by opening the compartment and providing relief so the body can begin to heal itself. If, the pain is a by-product of an occupation it is difficult to remedy. Try to limit, if you can, the repetition that elicited the pain. Generally, it is a chronic condition and marches slowly from a simple annoyance to a debilitating pain. Wakeful nights, use of anti-inflammotories, constant hand wringing is common. . Find an osteopath who is experienced in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The osteopath will perform a complete structuraI exam and direct treatment towards reducing and restoring all restrictions, asymmetries, mobility and tenderness. I have had good success treating this condition. The length of treatment is dependent on many factors. Generally, 3-5 treatments is a good range, with the goal to reduce frequency of pain and reduce the pain itself. However, in severe chronic cases, sometimes, even the best osteopath in the world cannot help and your doctor may recommend surgery.