Dr. Trembush and Dr. Stout, Editorial Author

Carpal tunnel may begin in the neck

Q: I have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome but would like to attempt a nonsurgical remedy before succumbing to the surgical procedure recommended. Is this something that a chiropractor can help with?

A: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful condition that shows up in the wrist and hand, often in people whose work requires repetitive motion using the hands and wrist, like working at a keyboard all day. Chiropractors have had success treating CTS in a variety of ways, including manipulating the wrist and recommending physical therapy. But chiropractors are also looking at potential subluxations — misaligned vertebrae — in the neck, as a cause of wrist pain.

The main nerve involved in CTS is the median nerve, which is formed from nerves that run through the vertebrae in the cervical spine, located in the neck. It’s called the median nerve because it runs through the middle of the arm and through a corridor of bones and ligaments called the carpal tunnel. Things can go wrong in the carpal tunnel as a result of trauma or repetitive motion, and pinch the nerve. But chiropractors are finding in many cases that the wrist and hand pain is actually caused by misalignment of cervical vertebrae or other problems associated to muscles of the neck, shoulder, and elbow. In most cases I have seen, the patient has never heard this information, being left to think a surgery of the wrist will fix everything. They are disappointed then when the pain returns quickly and they now have an ugly scar and the scar tissue contributing to the problem even more, all the while the real areas causing the problem have yet to be addressed. All of these areas are easily addressed at the same time, creating a true correction of the problem and resulting in a long term fix without surgery. This is true in most cases and in the rare circumstance that this approach does not resolve the problem, a surgery would then have a much greater chance of success by you having done the proper rehab before and after the procedure to release the nerve.

If you suffer from CTS symptoms, visit your chiropractor. If you have a true case, he or she can help you with a variety of therapies. But they may find the problem is in your neck, in which case they can also help.
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