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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

....Certain conditions that can cause swelling in the carpal tunnel and put pressure on the nerves leading to the hand.

If the wrist area is smaller than usual, repetitive movement or swelling caused by hormones, thyroid conditions, pregnancy, etc., may cause irritation and inflammation, leading to a true case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Signs and symptoms of nerve irritation (you needn't have all of them) in your hands are: pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, feelings of hot or cold when your skin is normal temperature, "electric shocks" and/or loss of or erratic function....maybe you cannot lift or grip objects.

BUT....MOST CASES DON'T BEGIN IN THE WRIST!

For instance, neck muscle spasms, thoracic outlet syndrome (spasms of muscles in the chest, which can press on nerves and blood vessels toarms and hands) will cause the exact same symptoms as an undersize carpal tunnel. Overdevelopment and spasms of muscles on the underside of the forearm can squeeze nerves and bring on the same symptoms.

Subluxations of vertebrae, usually in the neck and mid/upper back can irritate nerves and bring on pain and tingles, too. Subluxations (slight misalignment of the bones forming a joint) of the sacroiliac joint (where hip and sacrum meet) can cause compensation in the neck, resulting carpal tunnel symptoms. We have a sensor in the brain that causes our eyes to line up with the horizon. So, if your hips are slanted, your neck will bend to allow this alignment.

The skill is in differential diagnosis, finding out what causes the symptoms, constructing and carrying out a treatment plan.

No matter what it's called or whatever the cause, hand pain, weakness and paresthesia (tingling, numbness, burning, electric shocks, etc.) can ruin careers, are terrible to live with and should be properly diagnosed and treated.

HAND PROBLEMS CAN BE A RESULT OF:

  1. Muscle spasms in the chest
  2. Neck vertebrae
  3. Nerves that are pressed between the collarbone and ribs (from carrying heavy items on the shoulders such as a one side backpack strap or handbag or ropes over shoulders to carry buckets, etc)
  4. Vertebrae in the upper back (or, for that matter, anywhere in the spine) that need adjustment or alignment
  5. Incorrect ergonomics or "not working smart", which leads to various muscle spasms and distorted posture, resulting in nerve irritation
  6. Clenching or grinding teeth, which can cause myofascial pain dysfunction syndrome, affecting the whole body, shoulders, arms and hands included
  7. Subluxations and/or muscle spasms anywhere from the hand and arm up to the neck

Look at your posture now while you're at your 'puter. Are your knees and elbows at a 90 degree angle? Are your feet on the floor or a stool?? Are your elbows supported?? Do you stand up and walk a little a few times each hour?

If you answered, "No" to any of the above, you are risking nerve irritation that may mimic carpal tunnel syndrome. The usual treatment, as a last resort, is surgery, which may be disfiguring; scar tissue can form afterwards and eventually cause more pressure in the carpal tunnel.

Avoid that consequence by correcting your posture and computer work habits and having your spine checked periodically.

Think of it this way, the nerves that lead to your fingertips originate in your neck and communicate with your spinal cord there.

So, anything that interferes with your nerves on their paths from your neck to your fingers can cause carpal tunnel type symptoms.

How can you tell how or where the problem began? You probably can't.

Treatments can be various.... massage, heat, ice, St. Johns wort tincture spray, vitamins, joint mobilization, trigger point therapy, traction, acupressure, etc., and, of course, Chiropractic adjustments.

You'll need to learn which of the activities in your life besides work are contributing to your symptoms. Your lifting habits, sleeping posture (especially pillow placement) are important. For instance, we all know we should bend at the knees, stand close to objects when lifting and not twist the torso.

Do you know that sleeping on your stomach is a no-no? That position requires your head to be turned to the side (so you can breathe) which shortens and stretches various neck muscles too much; belly flopping can also cramp your spinal bones too close to one another and irritate your spinal joints.