Carpal tunnel is the most common of neuropathies, or nerve conditions, with over 90% of neuropathic cases being from carpal tunnel compression.1
Carpal tunnel can be caused by a variety of circumstances and conditions as well. CTS is more likely to occur in people who hold vibrating tools or work in an assembly line, engage in work that requires repetitive flexing of the wrist such as typing, take certain medications, have inflammatory conditions, or have poor wrist and hand ergonomics.2
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
The most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include genetic predisposition, history of repetitive wrist movements such as typing, or machine work as well as obesity, autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy.1 However, repetitive motions are a high-risk factor in developing carpal tunnel symptoms due to the repetitive activities inflaming the tendons that run through the carpal tunnel. This inflammation can lead to compression of the median nerve.3
Symptoms usually start gradually, in one or both hands during the night, with frequent numbness or tingling in the fingers.4 Some people report their hands and fingers even feel useless, clumsy, and unresponsive or even feel swollen, although little or no swelling is apparent!
Unfortunately, many cases of the wrist and forearm pain are automatically diagnosed as CTS without truly examining all possible causes of the pain, or even confirming if the painful condition is truly CTS.
The million-dollar question: Is every hand and wrist issue created by an issue with the nerve inside the carpal tunnel? The short answer: no!
What can you do if you have wrist and hand pain?
Your first line of defense is a physical examination of the hands, arms, shoulders, and neck by your trained chiropractor. They can help determine if the person’s complaints are related to daily activities, such as overuse or poor ergonomics, or due to an underlying disorder such as carpal tunnel or something else.
Many cases of carpal tunnel can be treated conservatively or without surgical intervention. Splinting, changing your daily routine, chiropractic care, soft tissue work, and other forms of treatment exist that safely improve and resolve a painful wrist condition.4
In the meantime, if you’re suffering from wrist and hand pain and you’re waiting for your next doctor’s appointment, here are some basic, easy stretches you can do on your own. Remember, these are a method of prevention, not treatment for any wrist or forearm condition.
Perform each stretch to tolerance (meaning, don’t hurt yourself!) for two sets, with 15-second holds on each arm. If you are holding your breath or making a pain face, you’re doing too much!