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CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

You're working at your desk in downtown San Diego, trying to ignore the tingling or numbness you've had for months in your hand and wrist. Suddenly, a sharp, piercing pain shoots through the wrist and up your arm. Just a passing cramp? More likely you have carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful progressive condition caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (although not the little finger), as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move. The carpal tunnel - a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand ¾ houses the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm. Although painful sensations may indicate other conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common and widely known of the entrapment neuropathies in which the body's peripheral nerves are compressed or traumatized.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers. Some carpal tunnel sufferers say their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent. The symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during the night, since many people sleep with flexed wrists. A person with carpal tunnel syndrome may wake up feeling the need to "shake out" the hand or wrist. As symptoms worsen, people might feel tingling during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. In chronic and/or untreated cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away. Some people are unable to tell between hot and cold by touch.

What are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Comprehensive, Personalized Occupational TherapyCarpal tunnel syndrome is often the result of a combination of factors that increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel, rather than a problem with the nerve itself. Most likely the disorder is due to a congenital predisposition - the carpal tunnel is simply smaller in some people than in others. Other contributing factors include trauma or injury to the wrist that cause swelling, such as sprain or fracture; overactivity of the pituitary gland; hypothyroidism; rheumatoid arthritis; mechanical problems in the wrist joint; work stress; repeated use of vibrating hand tools; fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause; or the development of a cyst or tumor in the canal. In some cases no cause can be identified.

There is little clinical data to prove whether repetitive and forceful movements of the hand and wrist during work or leisure activities can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Repeated motions performed in the course of normal work or other daily activities can result in repetitive motion disorders such as bursitis and tendonitis. Writer's cramp - a condition in which a lack of fine motor skill coordination and ache and pressure in the fingers, wrist, or forearm is brought on by repetitive activity - is not a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Who is at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps because the carpal tunnel itself may be smaller in women than in men. The dominant hand is usually affected first and produces the most severe pain. Persons with diabetes or other metabolic disorders that directly affect the body's nerves and make them more susceptible to compression are also at high risk. Carpal tunnel syndrome usually occurs only in adults.How can chiropractic treat carpal tunnel syndrome?

At Murphy Frazier Chiropractic in San Diego, we offer comprehensive treatments that check for any nerve interference from the spine or shoulder. We also address posture – an important factor in the development of carpal tunnel syndrome – that can cause a direct effect on the brachial plexus (an arrangement of nerve fibers running from the spine, through the neck, and into the arm) that can interfere with the function of the median nerve. We also work directly on the tendons and muscles of the forearm and hand, releasing adhesions that reduce pressure on the median nerve as well as allowing the median nerve to glide back into place. 

We are the only practitioners in San Diego to utilize an amazing Class IV laser to reduce immediate swelling and pain. The laser is completely pain-free and has no negative side effects. We also offer therapeutic exercises and stretching techniques to help you keep the results that you achieve.
Recurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome following our treatment is very rare, and the majority of patients recover completely. Contact us today for a consultation with one of our doctors at our convenient downtown San Diego office.

Thanks to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for some of the information on this webpage.

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Health is not merely the absence of pain or symptoms. Most of us are interested in a higher level of health called wellness.

A wellness approach to health means adopting a variety of healthy habits for optimum function on all levels. Because of its holistic and integrative methods, chiropractic care can be an important part of a true wellness lifestyle that includes exercise, good nutrition and a positive outlook.

Those who want to be at their very best add regular chiropractic care to their other health practices. You can feel better, have more endurance, recover more quickly from injury and gain a greater capacity to enjoy life to its fullest.

"Comprehensive, Personalized Occupational Therapy."

 

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San Diego Carpal Tunnel Syndrome