Most people have heard of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome before, but not everyone knows exactly what it is or what really causes it. The Carpal Tunnel refers to a tight canal or “tunnel” at the base of the palm that contains a number of nerves and tendons which pass from the forearm to the hand and fingers. The main nerve that travels through this tunnel is the median nerve and when this nerve is pinched or irritated it can cause a variety of symptoms to appear. The most common symptoms associated with carpal tunnel are numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers, sharp shooting pain in the wrist and forearm or difficulty making a fist or gripping small objects. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is most commonly seen in assembly line workers or people who spend a lot of time sitting at a computer.
Although the main cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is thought to be a narrowing of the tunnel due to inflammation of the tendons caused by repetitive use of the hand or wrist, there are a lot of other causes for the symptoms that are commonly overlooked. The median nerve which is the main culprit for the symptoms can become pinched in locations other than the wrist. The nerve originates in the neck and can thus become compressed in the neck itself or the shoulder, elbow, or wrist. Many times people suffering from what they believe to be carpal tunnel turn to surgery, only to discover that their problem was not coming from their wrist. Their symptoms were actually being caused by a problem in the cervical spine. Hundreds of patients can avoid unnecessary surgery by consulting a chiropractor before they agree to be cut open. The latest statistics show that full resolution of symptoms is achieved in less than 60% of surgeries. It is not uncommon for symptoms to return within two years of surgery if repetitive stress continues through routine use of a person’s hands at work or at home. Save yourself the risk and costs of surgery by consulting a chiropractor and trying conservative treatment first. After all, there is no turning back once you go under the knife.