Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be a very painful condition that affects the wrist and hand and can impact many areas of life. It can make it difficult to sleep and painful, sometimes even impossible to work, cook and enjoy yourself. Gripping objects and typing are some of the most painful tasks.

One patient put it this way….

I dread going to bed, I dread cleaning, dishes…any type of housework, because of the pain.”

What is Carpal Tunnel?

According to the Mayo Clinic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:carpaltunnel

“Carpal tunnel syndrome is a hand and arm condition that causes numbness, tingling and other symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist.”

In layman’s terms this means that the opening through which the nerves, tendons and blood vessels to the hand has decreased in size. This can be caused by inflammation, swelling, obesity and/or partial (or full) collapse of the Carpal Tunnel. Sometimes Carpal Tunnel syndrome is the result of an injury but most of the time it is the result of a commonly repeated motion such as swinging a hammer or typing on a computer.

The carpal bones

The carpal bones

Another common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is a misalignment of the carpal bones themselves. The carpals consist of two rows of four bones (eight total) in the wrist that that are prone to mechanical problems from repetitive stress such as using a keyboard, hand tools or machinery. When the carpals push too far forward, they narrow the size of the carpal tunnel. This results in irritation and inflammation to the nerve itself.

When this happens, the Median Nerve is affected causing symptoms such as tingling, numbness, pain, grip strength loss, hand fatigue and muscle atrophy of the hand. The median nerve controls sensation and muscles of the palm and first three digits (but typically not the little finger).

If you have any of the following symptoms you should be evaluated for potential Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

  • Pain in the Wrist
  • Pins & Needles in Hands
  • Numbness or Pain in Arms
  • Difficulty Grabbing Objects
  • Elbow Pain
  • Difficulty Writing

The following conditions must also be ruled out:

  • Cervical Neuropathies
  • Pronator Teres Syndrome
  • Arthritic Conditions
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Diabetic Neuropathies

Carpal Tunnel Treatment

Before we begin treatment for Carpal Tunnel we must first determine if that is actually what we are dealing with. Pinching or interference anywhere along the Median nerve can mimic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This includes the neck, shoulder, elbow and wrist and both joints and muscles.

Once we determine that the issue is actually in the wrist we must evaluate how well the carpal bones are workingThe bow and stringmechanically. When they are aligned and moving like they should, they create an arch on one side of the tunnel with the transverse ligament attaching to create the other half of the tunnel. Think of it like an archery bow. The bow itself would be the carpal bones and the string would represent the transverse ligament. We use a variety of chiropractic techniques to reset the bones in the wrist to reinforce the correct shape of the carpal tunnel and remove the pressure on the nerve.

We also want to make sure the tendons and median nerve are free to move, without irritation, as they pass through the carpal tunnel. Adhesions and scar tissue can form in this area which causes these structures to catch or bind up and become irritated. We use soft tissue protocols such as Graston Therapy to break up and remove these adhesions.

There is also an inflammatory component to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which must be addressed. Low Level Laser Therapy directly over the area both reduces inflammation and promotes healing of the injured nerves.

Along with these therapies there are a couple of other research based, conservative therapies that have been shown to be effective in treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:


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Spinal and Sports Care Clinic
12905 E Sprague Ave.
Spokane Valley, WA 99216-0731