What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition caused by pressure on the median nerve that leads to numbness, pain, and tingling within the hand and arm. In most cases, those with carpal tunnel syndrome end up with their symptoms becoming worse over time, so it is important to seek out treatment early on to stop it from getting worse.
When the pressure is left untreated, it can lead to permanent damage.
What are the Signs?
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome start off slowly. Early signs of this condition include burning, tingling, pain, or numbness in the thumb or any finger other than your pinkie. The median nerve provides feeling to all fingers in your hand except for the pinkie finger, which is why if your pinkie finger is affected you may not have carpal tunnel syndrome.
The feeling you experience can also travel up the forearm.
Other signs of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- A feeling of “shock” that comes and goes in the thumb and fingers
- Fingers feel swollen even if they do not look it
- Pain and tingling travels up your forearm and to your shoulder
- More difficult to make a fist
- Hard time working with small objects such as buttons on a shirt or writing
- Dropping things more often because of numbness or weakened muscles
- Difficulty with small tasks (such as driving, typing, holding a book)
- Weakness in the hand
Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Serious?
When left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to a lack of coordination and weakness in your thumb and fingers. Usually, carpal tunnel syndrome is not considered serious and with the right treatment, your pain will dissipate with no permanent damage to your wrist or hand.
However, there is such thing as a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome and symptoms have a high chance of becoming worse over time if left untreated. Those who have a severe case may experience reduced grip strength as their muscles in their hand shrink.
The pain and muscles will ache even worse as it becomes severe and because of the irritation or pressure surrounding the median nerve, the median nerve can begin to lose function.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms at first will come and go, but in severe cases, these symptoms can be constant. If you have a severe case that is left untreated, muscle atrophy could begin on the thumb side of your hand. Muscle atrophy is when muscles waste away and are typically caused by a lack of physical activity.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can make it difficult for you to move around the thumb comfortably and the lack of mobility can result in muscle atrophy. When you lose this muscle at the base of your thumb, you may not be able to distinguish hot from cold by touch.
Whether carpal tunnel syndrome is mild or severe, it will no doubt still have an effect on your daily life and nerve damage along with worsening symptoms can occur even when a mild case is left untreated.
Mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can make simple activities uncomfortable such as typing on the computer, drawing, lifting or gripping objects, and other small tasks that rely on the small thumb and hand movements. In severe cases, these small activities can be more painful than uncomfortable.
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?
Common treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome focus on the signs or symptoms of the condition. The ideal treatment is a treatment that focuses on correcting the underlying cause of your carpal tunnel syndrome, the pressure placed on the median nerve.
With that being said, we will go over the most common treatments use and compare it to a treatment that focuses on correcting the issue rather than covering up the symptoms.
Treatment may begin by wearing a wrist splint, taking anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen), and cortisone injections to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Other treatments focus on changes to your environment or habits to decrease symptoms such as moving the keyboard, changing the position of your hand or wrist while doing activities, raising or lowering your chair, or performing recommended exercises and heat treatments.
So far, these are to help lower the pain and discomfort of the symptoms. These do not help remove what may be causing the pressure placed on your median nerve. While some exercises and small positional adjustments may bring relief, it may be only temporarily depending on what is causing the pressure.
When none of the above treatments do work or your condition has become severe, surgery is usually tried next. The goal of carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is to increase the size of the tunnel in hopes it will decrease the pressure on the affected nerves and tendons.
The way this surgery occurs is by cutting the ligament covering the carpal tunnel at the base of your palm. Keep in mind, surgery is not a guarantee you will find ideal relief.
In addition, it is highly recommended to try all-natural treatment options before making permanent adjustments to the body that can do more harm than good down the road. This brings us to a natural treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome that is often overlooked – upper cervical adjustments.
How is Upper Cervical able to Provide Natural Carpal Tunnel Relief?
Upper cervical chiropractic focuses on your upper cervical spine. The upper cervical spine resides in your neck, right beneath the base of your skull. So how is this connected all the way down to your fingers and hand? The answer is the median nerve.
The upper cervical spine is the most important part of the body. Within it lies our brain stem, the powerhouse behind our brain to body communication. Without a properly functioning brain stem, mixed and false signals can begin triggering undesirable reactions and could even lead to the body attacking healthy cells instead of foreign invaders.
The median nerve is in a network of nerves called the brachial plexus located in the cervical spine and it travels all the way through the arm to your hand, thumb, and fingers (excluding the pinkie).
When an upper cervical misalignment occurs, the vertebrae that are out of alignment can apply pressure onto the brain stem and this network of nerves – causing carpal tunnel syndrome to occur.
The upper cervical professional makes gentle, very precise adjustments to the upper cervical spine to correct the misalignment.
By doing so, all pressure is released from the brain stem and surrounding nerves, restoring the proper brain to body communication, and relieving the nerves from irritation.
Many patients who have had carpal tunnel syndrome found great results in upper cervical adjustments, with most seeing an improvement in as little as 1-3 adjustments.
Because upper cervical adjustments target the underlying cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, even patients who have found no success with surgery has seen positive results.
However, due to surgery changing the body’s natural functions permanently, it is highly recommended to try a natural treatment like upper cervical adjustments first so that the body may have the best chance in healing and repairing itself.