One of the most common questions people ask when they’re suffering with hand pain or numbness is, “Do I have carpal tunnel?”. Everybody has carpal tunnel, one in each wrist in fact, however not all wrist and hand pain sufferers have carpal tunnel syndrome. Many people don’t realize that the carpal tunnel is a normal anatomical landmark inside the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist, through which one nerve and several tendons pass from the forearm to the hand.
Although carpal tunnel is normal, carpal tunnel syndrome is not. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the name given to the health condition where pressure builds up within the carpal tunnel great enough to compress the large nerve that passes through. This nerve is called the median nerve, and it’s the largest of three nerves that pass from the neck and shoulder to the hand. When the median nerve becomes impinged inside the carpal tunnel it causes pain, numbness, tingling and burning symptoms in the fingers. Not all fingers are affected by carpal tunnel syndrome, only the thumb, index, middle and half of the ring finger. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are fairly specific and consistent between patients who suffer from this entrapment neuropathy, however there are some variables.
Some patients only have numbness, whereas others may experience tingling or
burning symptoms. These symptoms are all referred to as paresthesia. Paresthesia
is a blanket term used to indicate symptoms of altered sensation.
Certain patients may have paresthesia involving only a couple fingers, while others
may experience symptoms in all of the first 3 ½ digits.
Weakness of grip strength is another finding sometimes present in someone who
has carpal tunnel syndrome, however this symptom is usually seen only in those
who have developed a chronic case of CTS. Weak grip strength is an indication that
the condition has been present for a prolonged period.
No matter what your hand symptoms consist or what the severity is, specific chiropractic adjustments to the carpal region (wrist) will aid in reducing or eliminating the compressive forces on the median nerve inside the carpal tunnel. For decades surgery has been the mainstay treatment for CTS, however the results are questionable in many cases. We’ve been able to help many patients avoid the need for unnecessary surgery through the application of gentle, specific chiropractic carpal bone and joint adjustments. If you’re suffering with any hand symptoms at all, don’t allow another day to pass without scheduling to come in for a chiropractic hand evaluation.