Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Aches and pains in the hand or wrist, numbness or pins and needles in the fingers and weakness when trying to grip something are all signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). If you do a search on ‘Dr.Google’ for information about CTS you’ll find that it’s all linked with squeezing of a nerve that runs through the wrist. The tissues within the carpal tunnel of the wrist swell and the Median Nerve gets compressed and this triggers the symptoms.
So what do you do if you have these symptoms? The various websites recommend resting the hand, wrist and arm, using anti-inflammatory medication and pain killers, and maybe trying splints to support the wrist. If you’re lucky the problem eases and clears. If you’re not so lucky the problem doesn’t clear or reappears after a short while when you start using your hand again. This is when the GP will start talking about steroid injections and possibly referral for surgery which cuts through the carpal tunnel and releases the nerve.
The NHS website does give a quick mention about how yoga or acupuncture may help with CTS. Osteopathy doesn’t get mentioned because of the lack of research. However, as osteopaths we’re interested not only in the symptoms but also asking why the problem started in the first place. If you don’t have a good idea as to what triggered the CTS then even if you ease or clear the symptoms the chances are they’ll return in some form.
Pregnancy, being overweight, jobs or hobbies that repeatedly strain the wrist and hand, or old wrist injuries and arthritis can all contribute to developing CTS. On top of this osteopaths would also look at the subtler ways that will mechanically put additional strain on the hand, wrist and arm. This is why we would always look at the associated shoulder and how it attaches to the upper back and neck.
If there’s a tendency to hunch the back and roll the shoulder forward, which maybe the result of slumping at a desk, it means that the whole of the arm and hand will mechanically be held in a position where it may not work efficiently. It’s this mechanical strain that may contribute to arm, wrist and hand symptoms. Unless you want the CTS symptoms to return or other aches and pains to appear then osteopaths would argue that the underlying problems have to be addressed. Besides, the surgical options should really be a last resort.« back