Carpal tunnel syndrome is a favorite with people who do jobs that involve repetitive stress, like typing, sewing, or using a mouse. These things can play havoc with the small tunnel in your wrist through which several important things have to travel. Nerves, tendons, sheaths for tendons, blood vessels, all have to be able to move freely in an area that isn’t very big, and is subject to problems if it becomes inflamed. It’s a lot like an accident on the I-5 in Tacoma by the dome, where in a tight spot where a lot is happening, it gets bogged down terribly when something makes it worse.
It can be pain or numbness in the hand or the wrist. Sometimes, though rarely, it can travel back up through the arm because of the inflammation present.
The tunnel itself is created by a series of bones that form a sort of an arch that is then held together by a piece of tendon called the flexor retinaculum. That flap of tendon holds everything together but then also acts as a restriction on the amount of space that is available in the area.
If you injure the area, whether through a sprain or a repetitive stress, it can become inflamed. Chronic inflammation in the area can restrict the space and lead to sticky fluid building up in the tendon sheaths in the wrist. Those tendons need to move through the sheath, and if the fluid in there gets sticky because of inflammation, it takes up some of that valuable space, resulting in pain.
Now, the medical approach is to take that flexor retinaculum and cut it. The idea is that it will allow the swollen tissues space, and then they can heal. The problem with this approach is that it also destabilizes the arch of the carpal tunnel, which ultimately results in LESS space. It does not have great success, and usually results in additional surgery later.
Additionally, the issue gets more complicated when you consider that a lot of the pain that appears like carpal tunnel syndrome may actually have to do with the nerves as they leave the neck or in the arm or elbow. So it isn’t always the wrist that’s the problem!
Chiropractic looks at all of those areas and approaches to alleviate the pain, improve the function, and get you back to your typing or sowing ways!