It seems that these days carpal tunnel syndrome has become a “catch all” diagnosis for any wrist or hand pain. True…it is a very common injury; however there are specific symptoms which classify the issue as carpal tunnel syndrome (or CTS). There are also many different mechanisms of injury that can lead to CTS. Surgery may be the first treatment that comes to mind for CTS, but did you know that there are more conservative ways to relieve the symptoms?
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Before we dive right in to causes, symptoms, and treatments, let’s talk about what CTS actually is.CTS is the compression of the median nerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel of the wrist from the forearm into the hand.The carpal tunnel itself is a narrow tunnel made up of three carpal (wrist) bones that form an arch.Nine flexor tendons of the hand and the median nerve pass through this arch.The transverse carpal ligament closes of the arch securing the contents in the tunnel.The median nerve supplies sensation to the thumb, index, middle and half the ring finger on the palm side of the hand.It also innervates muscles in the hand which allow the thumb to move away from the fingers, as well as cross the thumb over the palm to touch the pinky.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome has many different causes, including anatomical variants, overuse injuries, and even fluid retention. Narrowing of the carpal tunnel itself can be a result of the misalignment of one or more of the carpal bones that form the tunnel. The carpal bone misalignment most commonly associated with CTS is when the lunate bone shifts forward thus reducing the size of the tunnel. Enlargement of the tendons enclosed in the tunnel can also cause narrowing. This enlargement occurs with injury or overuse to the tendons caused by repetitive motions with the hands, such as using hand tools like a screwdriver or wrench, continuously holding tools that vibrate like dental tools or a drill, or even from constant typing without ergonomic support for the wrists.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Symptoms of CTS are specific and often allow for easy diagnosis. In a case of CTS, you will have paresthesia (or altered sensation, such as numbness, tingling, burning or itching) in the thumb, index, middle and half the ring finger on the palm side of the affected hand. You could also experience weakness in the muscles of the thenar region (thumb) of the hand which decrease grip strength and make fine movements of the hand difficult. In severe cases, you will also notice atrophy (or wasting) of the muscles in the thenar region of the hand due to improper function of the medial nerve and disuse of the affected muscles.
Stark Chiropractic and Sports
Dr. Shea Stark is the founder of Stark Chiropractic and Sports. She is a sports chiropractor and is highly experienced at treating carpal tunnel and other hand and wrist ailments.
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Dr. Stark is a board certified chiropractor and the author of this blog post. To learn more about Dr. Stark and the many benefits of chiropractic care, please visit our website: www.starkchiroandsports.com.