I have been writing recently about the body and the nerves in more of a general way, in my posts What is Osteopathy and How We Feel Affects How We Feel. I have also written about some patient experiences. Today I want to go into more detail about pain, specifically talking about alternatives to surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, discussing a one case in particular. In this technological day and age, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) affects many, many people.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
The Presenting Case
Sarah* is a 28-year old mother of three who works at home designing websites. She began waking up at night feeling that her hands had “fallen asleep.” She would then shift positions to get back to sleep. As time passed, she began waking up more and more often. Sometimes she had to sleep in her recliner just to stop the tingling in her hands.
Doctor’s Diagnosis then Surgery
Her doctor diagnosed her with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and sent her for physical therapy. When that failed, she was referred to an orthopedist who tried cortisone injections, but the symptoms eventually worsened.
She then had surgery which gave her some relief. Unfortunately, the relief lasted for only 6 months before the nagging numbness and tingling returned. She adamantly refused to repeat the surgery and began searching for alternatives to surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Alternatives to Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This brought her to my office. After three treatments, the tingling began to fade. After a few more treatments, the symptoms were completely gone. They have been gone for several years now. Today she knows that whenever she begins to feel that tingling again, all she has to do is a few simple exercises to be well again.
About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The carpal tunnel is so named because it resembles a tunnel between the wrist bones (carpal bones) and the ligament that stretches over it. CTS is generally thought to be due to a pinched nerve in the wrist.
Whether it is caused by trauma or overuse, the symptoms are the same — a persistent sense of numbness and tingling in the thumb and the first two fingers that sometimes gets so bad that the hand becomes weak.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There is much debate in the modern western medical world as to the best approach to correct that pinch. The most common approaches — surgery, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and injections — share a common flaw. They focus on the symptoms and not on the cause. Therefore, there is a high failure rate for long-term recovery.
Compression in the carpal tunnel is most commonly caused by activities that involve repetitive motions while holding the arms in a certain position over prolonged periods of time. For example, people who sit at the computer a lot tend to develop tension in their neck and shoulders. This tightness creates strain patterns from the neck and shoulders to the arm and then to the forearm and wrist. If this strain pattern persists, it can develop into CTS. Until you address the real problem, symptomatic care will last for only so long.
By releasing the tension of the muscles in the neck and upper back and prescribing some simple exercises, within a few short weeks the uncomfortable numbness and tingling symptoms disappear. No drugs, no surgery, no injections.
Wishing you the best of health and happiness,