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Are These Carpal Tunnel Symptoms 

 July 20, 2010

By  Dr. John Vilkelis

I hear this question in my office at least 5 or 6 times a week.  Now many people think they have carpal tunnel syndrome and many are correct.

Your symptoms may or may not include pain at the wrist, pain in the hand, pain in the forearm, tingling in the hand or fingers, tingling in the wrist or forearm and it may include numbness in the hand fingers or wrist.  The most common early carpal tunnel symptoms are numbness, tingling and burning in the thumb, index and middle fingers – often at night or after manual work.

There are many treatments for carpal tunnel from self help and exercises to chiropractic and acupuncture and finally surgery.

Most people can solve their carpal tunnel symptoms on their own with a small amount of effort.  According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Eaton Hand Center there are some exercises that will help your carpal tunnel symptoms.  See the diagrams that follow:

A. Extend and stretch both wrists and fingers acutely as if they are in a hand-stand position. Hold for a count of 5.

B. Straighten both wrists and relax fingers.

C. Make a tight fist with both hands.

D. Bend both wrists down while keeping the fist. Hold for a count of 5.

E. Straighten both wrists and relax fingers, for a count of 5.

The exercise should be repeated 10 times. Then let your arms hang loosely at the side and shake them for a few seconds.

The next thing to consider is changing the way you’re working, playing or exercising that might be putting unnecessary stress on your wrists.  Asking your human resources department to help make your work station ergonomically correct will help.  But make sure you can sit relaxed at your work area with no stress on your shoulders, arms or wrists.  Also be sure your feet are flat on the floor and bent at 90 degrees and that the center of your monitor is at eye level, all to ensure less physical stress on your body.

Chiropractic may be able to help you overcome your carpal tunnel symptoms as well.  I often see and successfully help people eliminate their carpal tunnel.  There are a few things to consider for the chiropractor; first is there a subluxation at the neck causing the problem? Next is there a subluxation at the shoulder, elbow or wrist causing the problem? Or is there an overuse syndrome causing your carpal tunnel symptoms?

Feel free to follow the link to see the explanation of a subluxation.  But an overuse syndrome is created when muscles are used improperly and get overworked so that they require you to recruit other muscles to help achieve the movement you want.  Muscles that normally were not meant to do that movement will also become overused and eventually the entire limb may be involved.  In this case the entire arm may be involved in creating your carpal tunnel symptoms.  There is also on eother scenario that is discussed with regard to the nerves in chiropractic care, it’s called a double crush syndrome.  The double crush syndrome is a compression neuropathy of two areas, one usually distant from the other. A growing number of researchers have suggested a correlation between some peripheral neuropathies, of which carpal tunnel syndrome is one and cervical nerve root compression another. The nerve is “crushed” or irritated in the spine, “priming” more distal areas of the nerve for dysfunction when that part is stressed (second “crush”).

The next efforts are the last steps before you start hearing recommendations for surgery.  Braces and cortico steroid injections can be serious and sometimes effective interventions.  Of course I’m biased but I think people should try the least invasive stuff first.  After this there is surgery for the most invasive treatment.  These surgeries are not done as commonly as they once were but still should not be taken lightly.  The surgery that is most commonly performed is cutting the tendon sheath under the wrist that hold the tendons down to give you hand muscles leverage and strength.  So having the surgery may solve the problem by uncompressing the nerve but whether it does or not that hand will be permanently weaker as a result.

I hope this helps you find out what you need to know.  As always please let me know what you think of this article, I’d love to share your experiences.

Dr. John Vilkelis


Dr. Vilkelis has been in private practice for over 27 years. He has a reputation for truly caring for his patients and goes the extra mile to make sure people get the help they need. He accepts patients of all ages and is eager to help you get well and stay healthy. Give him a call today at (914) 618-4330.

Dr. John G. Vilkelis

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