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Carpal tunnel syndrome, or “CTS” is the most common nerve compression problem in the upper body. Although statistics vary slightly each year, it accounts for tens of billions of $$$ in workersʼ compensation costs annually in the U.S., according to the US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Is it common? Upwards of 5% of all workers have it.Most common are women from age 30-50, and thereʼs a big-time increase in anyone with:
What is the carpal tunnel?
Itʼs an anatomical tunnel on the underside of the wrist, with the ʻfloor and sidesʼformed by the carpal bones in the wrist and the ʻceilingʼ or top covered by a thick ligament (transverse carpal ligament), retinaculum (kind of like wrapping tape) and skin. Blood vessels, tendons and a nerve run through it. The nerve that runs through it is called the median nerve. This is the pain-and-pressure-sensitive tissue that causes all the problems.
How Does It Get Injured?
Although direct trauma and metabolic conditions mentioned above can be culprits or contribute, itʼs most commonly caused by repetitive stress injury (RSI), where repeated actions over time build up, causing inflammation, swelling, and even adhesion (scar tissue) to put pressure on the median nerve. Can you say
How Is It Diagnosed?
Symptoms can include:
Signs can include:
Orthopedic test failure (tethered median nerve test, Phalenʼs & Reversed Phalenʼs test, median nerve tapping/compression test, weak opponens pollicus or pronator teres muscle testing, etc) Nerve testing (EMG, NCV, etc). These tests are usually performed in a clinical office setting.
1) Correct misalignments of carpal bones using chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.
2) Remove adhesionalong nerve at wrist, FOREARM, ELBOW and NECK!!!
Most cases have nerve entrapment at the pronator teres muscle in the upper forearm, usually ignored in standard treatments. The muscle contracts and shortens every time you have your palm facing down when using a keyboard! This gradually builds inflammation, which forms scar tissue, then puts pressure on the median nerve, which runs just under it.
My favorite soft tissue technique for these types of cases is Active Release Technique, which is performed by health professionals.
3) Cold laser therapy to all areas mentioned.
The application of cold laser therapy to the wrist, forearm, elbow and related cervical nerve root supplies can mean the difference between failure and success. It reduces swelling, inflammation and pain, as well as speeds healing by regenerating tissues and facilitating ATP production (the stuff all our cells need to make in order to repair). After using many lasers over the years, Iʼvefound the most effective ones have several basic requirements:
4) Nutritional support for nerve healing.
In my office, we successfully use Systemic Enzyme Complex * (virtual pharmacy code: SYST5) at 3 caps, twice daily on an empty stomach, and P5P50 (the active form of B6, called pyridoxal-5-phosphate form only) at 50-100mg a day*(code: P5P50). Take no more than 3 weeks without doctor supervision. Do not take Systemic Enzyme Complex if currently taking blood-thinning medication.
*Available through our Virtual Pharmacy on our website at HealthQuestForMe. First time visiting the Virtual Pharmacy? Simply sign up for an account by filling in the required fields. Once approved, you can search for hundreds of nutritional products by product name, description, or code, if known. The sign-up is free, and the Pharmacy is 100% private and secure.
These methods far exceed the standard of care for CTS, andover the last decade, weʼve been able to successfully and completely fix most cases of CTS where other methods fail. Try to find a practitioner that uses these techniques and you have a great chance of full recovery!
Barsten G, McCarthy K, Conservative Chiropractic Approaches to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic. Vol 6, Number 4, Dec. 1999.
The Effectiveness of Conservative Treatments of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Splinting, Ultrasound and Low-Level Laser Therapies. Photomed Laser Surg. Jan 26, 2009.