Numbness, tingling, and or pain in the hands and wrist are often signs of pressure on the nerves traveling to that region. Entrapment of the nerve can occur at the wrist area (carpal tunnel syndrome), elbow, shoulder, or neck. There are several conditions that mimic carpal tunnel syndrome and sometimes patients are misdiagnosed with carpal tunnel. In our experience a great number of people that demonstrate these types of symptoms often have pressure on the nerves in the neck region. Chiropractic can assure that all of the joints and musculature along the path of the nerve are free of obstruction and functioning normally, thus reducing nerve irritation.
Scroll down for a more in-depth discussion of carpal tunnel syndrome and similar conditions.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This is the name given to the painful wrist disorder. It is characterized by;
• weakening of hand muscles
• decrease in hand function
• decrease in range of motion of wrist/hand
• decrease grip strength
• dropping things/clumsiness of hands
• loss of normal sensations
• noticeable atrophy of muscle mass in palm
• absence of sweating in palms
Carpal Tunnel has most generally been attributed to;
• repetitive motion of the wrist
• abnormal posture of the wrist
• prolonged use of the wrist
• one predominant directional use of the wrist
• occupational demands of the use of hand & wrist
Carpal Tunnel medical observations may include any of the above plus;
• positive orthopedic tests
• nerve compression in the wrist
• inflammation of the wrist tendons
• nerve conduction changes
• wrist fracture
• previous hand surgery
The technical name commonly applied is Compression Neuropathy of the Median Nerve at the wrist. The most common methods doctors use to determine if this condition exists are orthopedic tests and/or nerve conduction studies.
The wrist has nine flexor tendons and other ligaments that are responsible for motion of the wrist. These tendons & ligaments form what is referred to as a tunnel. The main nerve in the wrist is the median nerve. The median nerve passes through the tunnel and is located beneath the transverse carpal ligament and superficial to the nine flexor tendons. The nerve is extremely susceptible to anything that causes compression or swelling within the tunnel, such as the conditions attributed above.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, see a doctor who specializes in Carpal Tunnel right away. Conservative treatment is available and preferred, but you must present for care as soon as possible to avoid complications which may lead to more aggressive treatment, as surgery. Whenever possible, we try to avoid drugs and surgery.
Trigger Finger/Trigger Thumb
We are hearing more and more about this condition which mimics Carpal Tunnel. It also involves the tendons of the wrist, although in a different area. This time, the thumb is involved and you may notice a clicking during activities or the thumb may lock up on movement when fully flexed or extended. A knot may be noticeable below the thumb on the palm side.
This is generally referred to as “tennis elbow”. Since the symptoms are once again similar, it is necessary to rule this out when determining if Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is present. The pain is usually more noticeable at the elbow and occurs when elbow movement is more sustained.
These cysts or lumps may appear anywhere in the hand, but usually appear at the bottom of the wrist near the thumb on the palm side. They can be hard or soft, are tender to the touch and may swell upon movement. The most common reported cause is from excess vibration or repeated pressure from hard objects.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
This is another condition where a nerve that passes through the wrist called the Ulnar nerve, gets compressed between tendons. The area affected is on the inside of the elbow. Again, symptoms mimic those of Carpal Tunnel. This occurs as a result of sustained elbow flexion or resting the elbow on a table repeatedly.
Those with “wide gripping” demands of the hand are more prone to this condition. Where repeated movements of the wrist include left or right lateral movement or repeated use of the thumb is involved also. Most noticeable on the palm side of the wrist at the base of the thumb.
A more subtle condition, the tendons responsible for flexing and extending the wrist may be irritated and present symptoms which include more swelling than pain. The flexors of the wrist are involved when there is repeated or forceful flexion of the wrist. The extensors are involved when there is a turning of the hand upwards and repeatedly or repeated finger movement.
This is a condition characterized by inflammation of a nerve. It highly mimics Carpal Tunnel in many ways. Also brought on by vibration and pressure from objects.
Sometimes called “vibration white finger disease” because of the blanching look taken on by the fingers. There is intermittent tingling and numbness with later weakness of the grip. Again, repetitive and resistive activity is a culprit and this condition is also seen with increased exposure to cold and vibration .
Please contact our chiropractic clinic in Destin, Florida or our new office in Miramar Beach, Florida at 850-654-1850 to schedule chiropractic care, massage therapy, nutritional counseling, rehabilitation services, or if you have questions about any of our services or our ability to provide you with help.