Many people will experience wrist and/or hand pain in their lifetimes, especially if they primarily work with their hands. Repetitive motion or stress injuries are very common and can occur in various areas of the body. This occurs when the body creates restriction as an adaptive change to compensate for overuse of an area. This materializes with adhesions, trigger points and scar tissue and can cause dysfunction in that area and its surrounding tissues. Sometimes, the restriction will cause a nerve to become trapped. When prolonged improper posture or position causes increased tension and pressure at a nerve entrapment site, it can result in neural edema, inflammation, fibrosis and decreased neural immobility. Chiropractic and massage therapy can be immensely beneficial for these conditions.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Your carpal tunnel is a U-shaped channel formed by 8 wrist bones and a tough fibrous ligament spanning the gap. The carpal tunnel houses several tendons and the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome means the median nerve is compressed or irritated and can also produce symptoms in the wrist, forearm, shoulder, and neck. Carpal tunnel syndrome is most common in females and people who repeatedly flex and extend their wrist, such as carpenters, grocery store checkers, assembly line workers, and people who are exposed to cold or vibration for long periods of time. Pregnancy, diabetes, or thyroid disease can predispose patients to carpal tunnel. Symptoms of carpal tunnel include nighttime and early morning numbness, swelling, and tightness in hands. If left untreated, carpal tunnel can progress from an intermittent annoyance to a serious problem resulting in permanent nerve damage. The American Academy of Neurology recommends conservative care, such as chiropractic, before considering surgery. Chiropractors employ a number of proven conservative treatments for carpal tunnel including, therapy modalities, myofascial release, exercise, nerve mobilization, wrist splint, and chiropractic manipulation.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one example of a repetitive motion neural injury of the wrist. In a nutshell, it occurs when the median nerve (a major nerve to the hand) is compressed by the transverse carpal ligament. It usually causes a pin-and-needles sensation in the fingertips and often especially at night. Not all wrist and hand pain is carpal tunnel syndrome. Doctors will use specific tests to obtain the proper diagnosis. The location of the pain and the specific sensation are clues that will help your doctor or massage therapist to provide the proper care and relief for your ailment(s).
Double Crush Syndrome is a theory that surmises that when neural function is impaired due to compression in one area of the body, a part of the nerve (the axons) are weakened making them more susceptible to damage in another area further down the nerve path. This theory can be used to treat conditions (such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow, for example) with cervical adjustments and massage even though the pain is not in the neck.
The best offense for these and all repetitive motion injuries is a good defense in the form of prevention; correcting the underlying causes with chiropractic, massage and physical medicine.
Article written by: Erika Brydum