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Affecting five percent of U.S. employees who repetitively use their wrists and hands to perform work tasks, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a nerve compression disorder more commonly diagnosed than any other nerve compression disorder. In fact, CTS accounts for the most days lost by employees among all other work-related injuries. While a few cases of CTS may resolve on their own with rest and use of wrist supports, most people with CTS require carpal tunnel treatment provided by their chiropractor, Dr. Christopher Frey in Fairfax to relieve pain and restore range of motion in their hands and wrist.
In the middle of your wrist is a tiny passageway (the carpal tunnel) comprised of ligaments and bones. A nerve essential for bringing sensation to your hands and fingers called the median nerve extends from your forearm, through the carpal tunnel and into your hands. When this nerve is compressed and swells, it cannot pass smoothly through the carpal tunnel. The ensuing inflammation and irritation of the nerve within the carpal tunnel causes symptoms of CTS.
In addition to tingling, numbness and an odd, itchy sensation in your hands and fingers, CTS also causes wrist pain that worsens when you grip something or turn your wrist in certain directions. Pain and tingling can extend into your forearm and elbow as well, sometimes "shooting" up your arm suddenly. People with severe CTS may also feel pain and numbness in their shoulders, especially if they neglect to get carpal tunnel treatment.
CTS may develop as a side effect of rheumatoid arthritis, overactive pituitary gland, hypothyroidism, diabetes or other conditions that affect the median nerve and/or the carpal tunnel. If Dr. Frey suspects something else may be contributing to CTS, he will order additional tests to develop an accurate diagnosis.
Two tests are indicated to diagnose CTS: the Tinel and Phalen test. During a Tinel test, your chiropractor will press and tap on the median nerve. If you feel a shock-like, tingling sensation, you probably have CTS. The Phalen test involves raising your arms (hands faced downward, pressed back to back) while flexing your wrists for 60 seconds. If numbness or tingling affects your hands and wrist, you are likely to have CTS. Your diagnosis may also include ultrasound, nerve conduction study or electromyography tests.
Chiropractors understand that CTS hand and wrist pain originate in the upper spine because the median nerve emerges from the cervical part of the spine. To relieve compression and inflammation of the median nerve, your chiropractor Dr. Christopher Frey will perform a spinal adjustment that removes pressure on the nerve caused by misaligned vertebrae. Once the median nerve is no longer compressed, inflammation recedes quickly. This allows the nerve to resume its normal size so that it can pass through the carpal tunnel without being irritated. Trigger point therapy and exercises that can be done at home are other ways to help relieve CTS.
If you think you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, please call Circle Chiropractic Center today to schedule an appointment: 703-385-2990.