NON-SURGICAL TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

"In general, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome develops when the tissue around the Median Nerve of the hand swell and press on the nerve. Early in the disorder, the process is reversible. Over time, however, the insulation on the nerves may wear away, and permanent nerve damage may develop. It is critical to begin treating early phases of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome before the damage progresses. A conservative approach to CTS...... is the first step in treating this disorder." The University of Maryland Medical Center's Carpal Tunnel Syndrome webpage.

"Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a very common condition, caused by 'The Pill', pregnancy, Rheumatological, or Endocrine disorders; and involves compression of the Median Nerve in the Carpal Tunnel" The Carpal Tunnel Anatomy video below from England's University of Warwick.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one of those problems that has become increasingly common in our emotionally and physically repetitive stress-filled society. The primary symptoms of CTS are pain, numbness, and tingling and in more severe cases atrophic (loss of muscle size and girth) changes can be seen in the Thenar muscle. Due to a wide array of factors, the tunnel which the median nerve traverses becomes over crowded due to swelling and inflammation and fibrous adhesions. As swelling increases inside this relatively closed space the atmospheric pressure also increases, much akin to inflating a tire on your car with the pressure continuing to increase due to the tire being a closed space. With the aforementioned variables described, the Median Nerve becomes irritated, causing the symptoms of pain and numbness, hand clumsiness and once again in more severe cases muscle atrophy and weakness. What is really surprising are the latest findings and what is believed to be the true cause. A recent 2013 research study conducted out of Harvard University School of Medicine found that CTS is more accurately linked to autoimmune diseases rather than the popular belief that it is caused by an overuse type of syndrome. This autoimmune disorder is thought to be similar to Raynaud's Phenomena than abject pressure on the Median nerve. If Raynaud's Phenomena is foreign to you it is a rare disorder that affects the arteries carrying blood from your heart to different parts of your body marked by brief episodes of vasospasm (VA-so-spazm) which is a narrowing of the blood vessels. The list below demonstrates that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is intimately associated with several such autoimmune diseases.

  • DIABETES: We are a nation of sugar addicted humans and you do not have to have full blown diabetes in order to have what is termed "Sugar Dysregulation" and it is very important to note that the problems associated with the regulation of blood sugar are a foundational point for virtually all diseases.

  • HYPOTHYROIDISM & DIMINISHED PITUITARY FUNCTION: The vast majority of America's thyroid problems (Hashimoto's and Graves) are autoimmune.

  • OBESITY: When you count those who are skinny fat, almost 80% of our nation's adult population is either overweight or obese. Skinny fat is defined as appearing skinny in clothes but dreadfully fat when you are without clothes.

  • RHEUMATOID OR DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS: There are many types of inflammatory arthritides and RA is autoimmune.

  • PREVIOUS TREATMENT FOR BREAST CANCER: Breast cancer treatment suppresses the immune functions and this is most likely the correlative to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

  • PREVIOUS WRIST INJURY: This could be almost anything, including fractures, sprains and strains and quite possibly tendinosis.

  • USING VIBRATING HAND-TOOLS & OVERUSE: Pressure, vibration coupled with overuse causing soft tissue trauma leading to inflammatory changes and fibrous adhesions.

Is surgery an effective and cost-effective option for carpal tunnel syndrome? Yes, in some cases. But Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be effectively dealt with in a conservative manner if it is caught early enough. The questions now become, what constitutes "conservative treatment" and when is "early enough"?

Wikipedia Commons

First let's discuss what is not considered conservative. Despite the medical community's inference that virtually anything falls into the "conservative" category so long as it does not involve surgery; is not really the most accurate way of thinking about this issue. Case in point; corticosteroids. An April 2007 study (A Systematic Review of Conservative Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) published in the medical journal Clinical Rehabilitation, examined the evidence from over 30 randomized studies on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Although they mentioned NSAIDS as showing "limited" efficacy in the treatment of CTS (something that is recommended by most physicians, and touted on sites like MayoClinic and WebMD), corticosteroids injection and/or taken orally) was the only form of treatment that made the "strong evidence" category. Steroids do have the ability to at least temporarily relieve the symptoms of CTS. The problem is, they also have a crazy array of common and frequently severe side effects.

Outcomes are relatively favorable in the first few years of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but as age and overuse of the hands continue during the course of one's life often times variations of the same pain patterns and dysfunction often return. At the Conklin Clinics we use a multifocal approach of pre-mobilization specificity stretches, carpal joint manipulations, cold laser and manual dexterity exercises. We would first carefully evaluate the patient to see if our care is a right fit. We would naturally have to determine if you are losing strength, the degree to which they are losing sensory and/or manual dexterity, their emotional component as it relates to their pain levels and if they were experiencing atrophic changes in the thenar muscle. We pride ourselves on stellar outcomes, we are committed to excellence. Give us a call.

Disclaimer: The information found on this webpage is not a substitute for medical advice from a licensed physician or legal advice from a licensed attorney. Any concerns or questions related to your injuries or pain patterns whether acute or chronic, and their legal impact and consequences, if any, need to be conducted with appropriate legal counsel. Any concerns or questions related to your injuries and/or pain patterns whether they are deemed acute or chronic, and their short term or long term physical impact and consequences, need to be conducted with an appropriate licensed physician. The information found on this page is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat and/or educate for purposes of treatment and/or educate for the purposes in the self treatment of your injury or injuries or pain patterns.