Carpal Tunnel relief is sought by millions each year. The condition is caused by pressure on the median nerve that runs through the wrist.
The carpal tunnel is comprised of 8 bones through which the median nerve passes. It is usually compression of this nerve which causes the pain and loss of function that is commonly associated with missed work, trouble dressing oneself as well as tending to other daily activities.
In addition to the median nerve, which controls the motor function of the thumb and three closest fingers, multiple small tendons and ligaments pass through this narrow opening in the wrist.
Carpal Tunnel is one of the most common peripheral nerve entrapment syndromes and, as such, is one of the most common entrapments to be surgically released (https://online.boneandjoint.org.uk/doi/abs/10.1302/0301-620X.92BSUPP_IV.0920577). It often occurs in both wrists and, oftentimes, both carpal tunnels are surgically released around the same in attempts to prevent future limitations.
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
In this test, the clinician will apply pressure to the median nerve in your wrist. If you experience tingling or electric shock-like discomfort, the test is positive for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Here, the patient is sitting or standing and is instructed to place the arms horizontally, while pressing the back of the hands together for one minute. A positive test would be pins and needles sensations in the hands, wrists and surrounding areas.
A form of electromyography, two electrodes are placed on the skin, one above and one below the carpal tunnel. A small impulse is passed through the median nerve to see if electrical impulses are slowed in the carpal tunnel. Slowing of nerve impulses indicates an entrapment along the median nerve in the area of the carpal tunnel (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc20355608#:~:text=Nerve%20conduction%20study.,and%20rule%20out%20other%20conditions).
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an entrapment problem but the main entrapment isn’t always in the wrist itself. The main cause may be coming from the elbow or shoulder areas, and if the pain is in the left and right sides, the main problem may be emanating from the neck due to a condition called cervical (neck vertebrae) radiculopathy.
Cervical radiculopathy can present very similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome but often involves pain or discomfort in the shoulder as well.
Massage therapy may relax tight muscles which are contributing to the discomfort and acupuncture may be helpful for interrupting or diminishing the pain signals. Anti-inflammatory supplements may also be helpful for taking the edge off so that you can get a better night’s rest.
There are also chiropractic methods which gently and specifically restore the alignment of the neck vertebrae. The NUCCA method is used by Dr. James Pietrek of Prior Lake Spinal Care for his patients suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Dr. Pietrek says, “The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) has developed a system of gently restoring the optimal alignment of the neck vertebrae. There is no snapping, twisting or popping involved.”
He says that usually when a patient comes in with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome AND they happen to have a copy of an MRI report with them, there is usually degenerative trouble with the discs in the lower neck. In these cases, Dr. Pietrek says that the pain usually occurs in both carpal tunnels.
Here’s what one patient had to say about her experience with Dr. Pietrek:
“I started my care here a few months ago, suffering with right-sided neck shoulder, and carpal tunnel pain and my results have been amazing! I don’t think I will need surgery any more and I feel so much better. Also, my blood pressure was skyrocket high and now it is normal. I’d recommend Dr. Pietrek to anyone.”
Click here to see how Erika experienced Carpal Tunnel relief in Prior Lake and see what a NUCCA treatment looks like: