What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Of all work-related injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most expensive. It’s estimated that over the course of a lifetime, a CTS patient will lose $30,000 in medical bills and time off of work.

While CTS is often associated with computer data entry, recent research suggests that typing at a keyboard does not increase your risk of developing CTS. It’s most commonly seen in assembly-line workers in finishing, manufacturing, sewing, meatpacking, cleaning and other related industries.

When patients come into our Longview, WA office with CTS, we employ a variety of carpal tunnel syndrome treatment methods to help alleviate pain and correct the issue. We do our best to educate patients on what this syndrome is and its causes to further help prevent it from recurring in the future.

Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome presents itself when the median nerve, which runs from the hand to the forearm, gets compressed in the narrow tunnel of the wrist, a.k.a. the carpal tunnel.

When compression occurs, it can cause pain, numbness and/or weakness in both the wrist and the hand. The dominant hand is typically affected first, and the pain can be severe.

Symptoms of CTS

The most common symptoms of CTS include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Itching

These symptoms typically present in the palm of the hand, or the fingers (index, thumb and middle specifically).

Most people with CTS first experience symptoms when they’re sleeping simply because most people sleep with their wrists flexed. Over time and as the symptoms worsen, they may begin experiencing tingling sensations during the day. Weakened grip strength may also occur, which can make it difficult to grasp smaller objects or make a fist.

Some CTS patients are unable to tell the difference between hot and cold. Others will experience wasting of the muscles in the thumb area.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Certain individuals are predisposed to develop CTS, particularly those who have smaller carpal tunnels. CTS can also develop because of:

  • Wrist injuries
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Overactive pituitary gland
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Work ergonomics
  • Overuse of vibrating tools
  • Fluid retention

Diagnosing CTS

Chiropractors use specific tests when diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. Two of the most common tests are:

  • Carpal Compression Test: Pressure is directly applied to the median nerve and carpal tunnel with both thumbs.  
  • Pressure-Provocative Test: A cuff is placed at the front of the carpal tunnel and inflated. Once inflated, direct pressure will be put on the median nerve.

X-rays and laboratory tests may also be used to detect underlying medical issues that may be causing CTS, such as diabetes, fractures and arthritis.

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Therapy is often the preferred treatment method for CTS and may include:

  • Giving the wrist and hand adequate rest
  • Immobilizing the wrist using a splint to prevent further damage
  • Avoiding certain activities to prevent further injury
  • Reducing swelling with cool packs
  • Joint manipulation
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Acupuncture

Surgery may be required if the patient’s symptoms do not respond to conservative treatment methods. Most patients recover completely after surgery and the recurrence rate is low.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment Longview WA

Family Chiropractic Care has successfully helped treat CTS in many patients, allowing them to get back to work, free of pain. Call (360) 636-2636 to learn more.