Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
You're typing away at your desk and suddenly feel a sharp pain in your wrist, shooting into your thumb and hand. You take a small break and stretch your wrists, but it doesn't go away this time. You are possibly developing carpal tunnel syndrome - a neuropathy (nerve disorder) that often strikes people whose occupation requires frequent hand usage or vibrational machines.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a painful disorder affecting the hands and wrists. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness and tingling in the hands primarily the thumb and thumb pad, index, middle, and inner half of the ring fingers. Patients with CTS report increased symptoms at night. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also result in decreased fine movements of the fingers, such as buttoning a blouse, and reduced grip strength. Also, the Thenar pad (palms) may undergo muscle atrophy (shrinking).
Unavoidable causes include pregnancy and other hormonal disorders or even congenital narrowing of the carpal tunnel, but there are well known avoidable causes leading to carpal tunnel syndrome if you limit your exposure to them such as:
- Computer keyboarding
- Hard gripping (machines, etc.)
- Assembly line work
- Pulling/Pushing heavy items
- Carrying things with wrist extended (waitressing)
- Using vibrating equipment
Wrist braces or wrist splints may be prescribed but the mainstay for non surgical therapy is Chiropractic Manipulation and Class IV Deep Tissue Laser Therapy. The next level of intervention is cortisone injections into the carpal tunnel. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. If successful, the injection can reduce pain for months. However, the danger of this is that the patient, being pain free may continue to overuse the hands, causing CTS to reappear more severely. The next level of intervention is surgery.