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Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – What Is It?


Introduction
cts01 Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common problem that affects the hand and wrist. This condition, or syndrome, has become the focus of much attention in the last few years due to suggestions that it may be linked to occupations that require repetitive use of the hands – such as typing. In reality, there are many people who develop this condition – regardless of the type of work that they do.

The Median Nervecarpal2 Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition which results when the median nerve does not work properly. Usually, this is thought to occur because there is too much pressure on the nerve as it runs into the wrist through an opening called the carpal tunnel. It may be easier to understand how this occurs if you understand some of the anatomy of the wrist. The median nerve runs into the hand to supply sensation to the thumb, index finger, long finger, and half of the ring finger. The nerve also supplies a branch to the muscles of the thumb, the thenar muscles. These muscles are very important in moving the thumb so that you can touch each of the other fingers. This motion is called opposition.

carpal3 Carpal Tunnel The carpal tunnel is an opening into the hand that is made up of the bones of the wrist on the bottom and the transverse carpal ligament on the top. Looking at a cross section of the wrist allows one to visualize the anatomy of the carpal tunnel. Through this opening called the carpal tunnel, the median nerve and the flexor tendons run into the hand.

The flexor tendons are important because they allow us to move the fingers and the hand, such as when we grasp objects. The tendons are covered by a material called tenosynovium. The tenosynovium is very slippery, and allows the tendons to glide against each other as the hand is used to grasp objects. Any condition which causes irritation or inflammation of the tendons can result in swelling and thickening of the tenosynovium. As the tenosynovium covering all of the tendons begin to swell and thicken, the pressure begins to increase in the carpal tunnel – because the bones and ligaments that make up the tunnel are not able to stretch in response to the swelling. Increased pressure in the carpal tunnel begins to squeeze the median nerve against the transverse carpal ligament – because the nerve is the softest structure in the carpal tunnel. Eventually, the pressure reaches a point when the nerve can no longer function normally. Pain and numbness in the hand begins.

One of the first symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness in the distribution of the median nerve. This is quickly followed by pain in the same distribution. The pain may also radiate up the arm to the shoulder, and, sometimes the neck.

There are many conditions which can result in irritation and inflammation of the tenosynovium, and eventually cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Different types of arthritis can cause inflammation of the tenosynovium directly. A fracture of the wrist bones may later cause carpal tunnel syndrome if the healed fragments result in abnormal irritation on the flexor tendons. The Key Concept to remember is that anything which causes abnormal pressure on the median nerve will result in the symptoms of pain, numbness and weakness of carpal tunnel syndrome. Pressure on the origin of the median nerve at the neck from spinal misalignments, or subluxations are often the most common cause of carpal tunnel symptoms. Chiropractic adjustments have shown to be very effective in relieving these symptoms.

Chiropractic spinal adjustments can make the difference between a pain-free wrist or long term suffering. Don’t suffer any longer, call us today for a healthy tomorrow!