What is Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal Tunnel is when the median nerve gets impinged between where it leaves the neck and all the way down to the wrist where the anatomical “Carpal Tunnel” is located. The median nerve supplies the afferent and efferent neurons that transmits muscle impulses going from the spine to the thumb, index, long finger, and part of your ring finger. Often this can be due to inflammation of the tissue in the tunnel.
Carpal Tunnel is usually brought on by repeated over extension of wrist. When you over extended your wrists it contributes to the swelling and compression of the median nerve. Examples could include poor positioning while at a key boar, repeated use of vibration tools, or any wrist and hand extensive activity.
Signs and symptoms
· This can display as numbness or tingling in your thumb, index, long finger, and part of the ring finger and can appear on one or both sides of the body.
· Dropping objects
· Weak hand grip
· Wake up at night with a numb hand
· Fingers feeling swollen
Studies that show a link from these conditions to people more commonly associated with carpal tunnel include:
· Previous wrist injuries or fractures
· Thyroid dysfunction
· High blood pressure
· Rheumatoid Arthritis
· Psoriatic arthritis
· Carpal bone spurs
· Menopause or water retention from pregnancy
How can you recover from carpal tunnel?
While there are a variety of stages and affects surrounding carpal tunnel there are some things you can do to decrease your symptoms and pain.
Proprioceptive-Deep Tendon Reflex treatment is a great way to help to release the impingement on the median nerve. P-DTR gives us the tools using muscle testing to identify when muscles are hypertonic which means they like to stay locked. These hypertonic muscles tend to squeeze things like blood vessels, lymphatic pathways and nerves. There can also be a lot of dysfunctional stretch receptors and issues in the shoulder complex that will need to be assess to further eliminate the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel. I would highly recommend function neurology before surgery.
Massage therapy is used to loosen muscle tissue and release fascia. Nerve impingement is often related to a muscular impingement and sometimes a skeletal. Massage therapy can release and lengthen tight muscles taking the tension off your median nerve. This can be extremely beneficial when combined with cupping therapy and gua sha.
Other non-surgical options
· Avoid overextending your wrists.
· Using medication to reduce inflammation
· Wrist splints can be used to maintain your hand in a neutral position.
· Steroid injections
How to prevent Carpal Tunnel
Improve your posture
Poor posture can create forward shoulder which can cause an impingement of the nerves traveling from your spine though your neck and shoulders. This impingement can carry down to your hands and fingers causing carpal tunnel. Try correcting your posture by strengthening underactive muscles and loosening overactive ones.
Adjust your desk layout
Many monitor, keyboard, and mouse layouts can create dysfunctional posture over long periods of time. Try and make sure the monitor is eye level and your wrist don’t need to be overly extended when typing or using a mouse.
Use heat on your wrist and hands
Heat is a great way to help muscles recover by bringing in fresh nutrients. They also help fibers relax and loosen making more space for the nerves in the forearm and carpal tunnel. One of the more common ways carpal tunnel is created is inflammation due to injury so heat is a great way to prevent this scenario.
Since this can often be due to overuse a break allows the body a chance to rest between activities can help prevent overloading the tissue. If you’re on your computer all day get up and walk around and relax your wrists. If you’re lifting weights do some self-massage between reps of your forearms and hands.
Relax your grip and reduce exerted force
Over gripping is an easy way to wear out your muscles and cause injuries. By reducing your force you can help keep muscles in a healthier state. This is extremely common in athletes lifting heavy weights or rock climbing where you need a strong grip to hold onto the objects or falling off a wall.