If you’re not familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome, it is a condition delineated by numbness, tingling, or a weak sensation in one’s hand. It is usually the byproduct of repetitive motion and certain health conditions like obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and pregnancy, for example. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also characterized by pressure on their median nerve, which is a nerve that extends the length of the arm and travels through the carpal tunnel (a narrow passage in the wrist) until it reaches the hand, marking the end of its journey. In addition to the feelings of numbness, weakness, and tingling, carpal tunnel also makes it very difficult to grip certain items like pens, buttons, and other small items. It is important to note that gripping a steering wheel while driving can also be very difficult. In this article, we will take a closer look at the etiology of this condition as well as available treatments for those who have it.
WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO DEVELOP CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
Statistically speaking, carpal tunnel syndrome is more common among women. In fact, studies show that women are three times more likely to develop the debilitating condition than men as they tend to have narrower carpal tunnel channels. It is worth noting that some women develop carpal tunnel syndrome once they become pregnant; however, the symptoms will usually dissipate after they have given birth. Gender differences aside, those who have the following professions are especially susceptible to developing carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Construction workers
- Assembly line workers
- Office workers
- Business Executives
In essence, any job or activity requiring the repetitive use of your wrist, fingers, or hands, especially over a longer period of time, increases the chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
HOW IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME DIAGNOSED?
When a patient complains of numbness, tingling, or a weak sensation in their hand, physicians will often administer a “tap” test whereby they tap the palm side of a patient’s wrist or have them fully flex their wrist with their arms extended. While these tests may seem unorthodox, they are highly effective. In addition to a “tap” test and having patients flex their wrists, physicians may also order an EMG-NCV, which is a test used to assess how well the nerves across the carpal tunnel are functioning.
TRADITIONAL CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME TREATMENTS
When it comes to treating carpal tunnel syndrome, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach as the severity of the condition can vary from person to person. That said, some of the more common treatments include
Immobilization – This process generally entails using a splint during the day to prevent the wrist from moving, which minimizes pressure on the median nerve. Some patients may also be instructed to wear them at night as a means of resolving the numbing and tingling sensations typical of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Lifestyle changes – For symptoms that intensify with repetitive motion, taking frequent breaks or limiting certain activities can significantly help improve symptoms. Similar relief can also be achieved through stretching and strengthening exercises as well, as directed by a professional Chiropractor.
Medication – If carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed early, most physicians will recommend a nonsurgical approach as a means of managing pain and other symptoms typical of the condition. Some of the most commonly used medications for treating carpal tunnel syndrome include NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), namely Advil and Motrin. However, in extreme cases, physicians will prescribe corticosteroids, which are administered via injection. These medications are designed to reduce swelling and inflammation, which help to alleviate pressure on the median nerve.
NEW CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME TREATMENTS
While traditional treatments are effective, there are other options worth considering. For example, cold-laser light therapy, which is a low-intensity laser therapy that promotes healing while using low levels of light, is quickly becoming a preferred treatment for many individuals struggling with numbness, pain, tingling, and other symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
In addition to cold-laser light therapy, ART (Active Release Technique) is another popular treatment. This form of therapy, which is carried out by a certified Chiropractor, is very much hands-on in that practitioner will use their hands to break up adhesions that form between the nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and connective tissue that act as the catalyst for most carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
The Graston Technique is another option for individuals seeking relief from carpal tunnel syndrome. Similar to ART, the Graston Technique is a hands-on form of manual therapy whereby practitioners purposely introduce inflicts small amounts of microtrauma into are where excessive scar or soft tissue fibrosis has occurred. The process then triggers an inflammatory response that reportedly simulates healing while minimizing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
WHEN SHOULD PATIENT CONSIDER SURGERY?
When it comes to surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, it is generally a last resort, meaning all other treatment options have been exhausted. That said, there are two surgical procedures use to relieve pressure on the median nerve, endoscopic and open surgery. To help put all of this into context, let’s take a closer look at what each procedure entails:
Endoscopic surgery – The surgical procedure involves using a telescope-like device, which is fitted with a small camera that enables the surgeon to see inside the carpal tunnel. The surgeon will then make two small incisions in the patient’s hand before cutting the ligament that is pressing against the median nerve.
Open surgery – This surgical procedure entails making an incision in the palm of the patient’s hand and over the carpal tunnel, which creates an access point for the surgeon to cut through the ligament to release the pressure on the median nerve.
HOW TO AVOID DEVELOPING CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
When it comes to carpal tunnel syndrome, there are things that you can do to reduce your chances of developing the condition including:
- Avoid repeatedly extending your wrist.
- Keep your wrist as straight as possible while typing or performing similar activities.
- Use wrist splints or other immobilization devices that can help keep your wrist in a neutral position.
- Office worker should ensure that they have proper ergonomics as their work station.
And remember, discuss any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing with your chiropractor.
When you’re experiencing pain in your foot, there are a myriad of conditions and injuries that could be causing this pain. Among the more common injuries that leads to foot pain is plantar fasciitis, which specifically affects the heel of the foot. At its most severe, this condition can make it difficult for you to perform everyday activities. If you believe that you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis and foot pain, you should consider having the issue treated so that you can better manage the symptoms.
What Plantar Fasciitis Refers To
Plantar fasciitis is a very common reason for a person to experience pain in the heel of the foot. This condition occurs when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that’s located at the bottom of your foot and serves as the connecting tissue from your toes to the heel bone. When you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, the pain will likely be localized around the back of the plantar fascia right around the heel bone.
If you run on a regular basis, you’ll have a heightened risk of being affected by this condition. The same is true if you wear shoes without the right support or are overweight. If you’ve recently changed the types of exercises in your workout routine, it’s possible that these changes will lead to you developing plantar fasciitis. The presence of high foot arches or flat feet could also contribute to this condition.
Main Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
The main symptom associated with plantar fasciitis is a sharp pain that’s centered around the bottom of your foot. While the pain can spread throughout the entire bottom of the foot, it’s mainly located at the heel. Your pain will likely be at its worst in the moments after you wake or after you’ve exercised. This condition is somewhat unique in that the pain may not be that noticeable while you’re exercising but will instead be triggered after you’ve finished your workout. The heel of your foot can also become swollen or stiff. These symptoms can range from mild to severe in how painful they are.
How This Condition Is Diagnosed
In order for plantar fasciitis to be properly diagnosed, a doctor will need to perform an extensive physical examination while also obtaining information about your medical history. Because of the large number of conditions and diseases that can cause pain in the foot, there are many variables that the doctor will need to take into account so as to eliminate the possibility of other conditions being the cause of your pain.
The doctor will also ask you questions about the symptoms that you’re experiencing to identify if these symptoms correlate with plantar fasciitis. Both your foot and leg will be moved and bent in certain directions to determine how tender the area around the heel is. While more intensive blood tests and imaging tests aren’t used as a means of diagnosing this condition, they can sometimes be administered to rule out other possible causes of your heel pain.
Primary Treatment Options to Consider
While plantar fasciitis can be very painful and difficult to deal with, it can also be treated. Inflammation of any part of the body is a natural response that your body has to an injury. While inflammation can cause a substantial amount of pain and other symptoms, it can typically be treated unless the pain has become chronic. If the symptoms that you’re experiencing are mild, it’s possible that resting the foot and placing ice on the affected area for 15 minute intervals may be all that’s required to get rid of the pain.
Among the most effective treatments for plantar fasciitis include gentle stretches and muscle strengthening exercises, which combine to improve the muscle strength, flexibility, and mobility of your foot. ART (Active Release Technique) and Graston technique soft tissue treatments can also help relieve pain and help restore function to pre-injury status. If the pain that you’re experiencing is moderate to severe in intensity, you may be provided with an anti-inflammatory prescription medication that’s designed to last for just a few short weeks.
If you continue to experience pain after taking medications several weeks, your doctor could recommend an injection of a cortisone substance directly into the foot. Other possible treatment options include orthotics, immobilization of the foot, and the placement of a night splint. There are rare occasions when surgery may be required, which is typically reserved for severe cases. Surgery for plantar fasciitis usually involves detaching the heel bone from a portion of the plantar fascia.
Prognosis of Plantar Fasciitis
The prognosis of plantar fasciitis all depends on when you sought treatment for your pain. Early treatment is important for plantar fasciitis if you want to avoid worse symptoms. People who are affected by plantar fasciitis but don’t seek treatment right away will likely start to change the way they walk in order to compensate for the pain that they’re experiencing. While placing less weight on the affected area while walking should lessen your pain, it can also cause problems in other areas of the body, which primarily includes joint misalignment in the foot, knee, and back areas.
Joint misalignment can lead to additional problems over the years, which is why it’s so important to obtain early treatment for your case of plantar fasciitis. Along with joint problems, leaving plantar fasciitis untreated can lead to chronic heel pain, which means that the pain will be long-lasting and may be difficult to effectively treat. The presence of heel pain can make it more difficult for you to walk normally, which can in turn create issues with your ability to exercise, play sports, or engage in any kind of active pursuits.
Using Chiropractic Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis
While the aforementioned treatment options can be effective at lessening your pain, using chiropractic treatment is a great way to effectively deal with the pain without needing to resort to medications or more intensive treatment options. As touched upon previously, the presence of untreated plantar fasciitis can cause you to experience joint problems in other areas of the body aside from your foot and heel. The joints and ligaments in your foot are all part of a kinetic chain that winds throughout the body. The worsening of symptoms in one area of the body can have an adverse affect on some of the other segments within this kinetic chain.
Chiropractic care is designed to treat the pain that you’re experiencing in any area of your body by addressing the primary cause of your pain. For plantar fasciitis, the main techniques used during chiropractic care include stretching exercises and the provision of a focused treatment plan. The treatment plans created by a chiropractor are meant to be specific to each patient’s health and outlook, which is why chiropractic care is so effective. The main focus of these treatment plans will be to reduce the amount of stress placed on the plantar fascia ligament in your foot, which will help to lessen the pain and inflammation that you’re going through.
A chiropractor will also make sure to minimize any secondary injuries that could occur in other areas of your body by making sure that you walk properly and that you don’t accidentally make movements that could cause joint problems in your leg or back. Chiropractic care is a non-invasive treatment that’s completely natural and is designed to work well when combined with other treatment options. If you’ve been placing ice on your foot and are resting the area as much as possible, chiropractic care may be all that you need to eliminate your pain.
When you become injured, the resulting damage will either be referred as an overuse injury or an acute injury. An acute injury occurs when a singular event brings about the trauma to your body, which can be something like a knee injury from a car crash or a shoulder dislocation from playing football. Overuse injuries are extended issues that are more difficult to diagnose and occur because a bone, tendon, or joint in your body has been overused. It’s important to understand why these injuries occur so that you can prevent them from happening in the future.
Why Overuse Injuries Occur
Exercising and many forms of physical activity place stress on the joints, tendons, and bones throughout your body. Unlike emotional stress, physical stress is actually beneficial in many cases and can help strengthen every component in the body while also making them function more effectively. However, it’s possible for these muscles, tendons, and joints to be overused, which means that too much stress will have been placed on them in a short period of time. Repetitive trauma to any area of the body can cause one of these injuries to occur.
An overuse injury typically stems from an error with your technique or an error with your training. Training errors take place when you perform a certain activity more rapidly than you’re supposed to. Whether you exercise for too long or run too fast, these training errors can place an undue amount of stress and strain on your muscles in a short period of time, which may cause you to develop one of these injuries.
As for technique errors, these occur when you’ve performed a technique improperly. Whether you’re constantly unwinding a baseball with a bad form or aren’t lifting weights correctly, your joints and muscles may be twisting and contorting in a manner that heightens your risk of an overuse injury. If you’ve already suffered from one of these injuries or are looking to prevent them from occurring in the future, professional chiropractors can assist you in understanding how to properly exercise and work out in a way that lessens your risk of an overuse injury.
Common Types of Overuse Injuries
While the majority of overuse injuries occur when exercising or playing sports, a number of these injuries can actually take place when you’re at the office all day. Playing almost any kind of sport will increase your chances of being affected by an overuse injury. Tennis elbow is a very common overuse injury that occurs when the tissue between your elbow and forearm muscle becomes irritated or slightly torn. As the name implies, this injury commonly results from playing tennis at a high intensity along with other sports like squash, racquetball, or fencing. Any activity that requires repetitive arm movements can put you at risk for tennis elbow, which includes standard duties performed by carpenters and similar skilled laborers.
Many overuse injuries among athletes occur in the foot and knee because of how often these areas of the body are used. Achilles tendonitis, calf muscle tears, meniscus tears, and plantar fasciitis are just a few of the more common lower body injuries that can result from overusing some of the muscles in your knee and foot. These injuries are especially common among runners. People who are involved with CrossFit regularly suffer from overuse injuries as well because of the high intensity workouts that take place with this program.
When looking at overuse injuries that can occur in the office, you may be surprised at how many different types of injuries can result from working in an office all day long. Likely the most common overuse injury among office workers is carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when too much pressure has been placed on the median nerve that’s located in your wrist. This nerve controls the feeling and movements for all of your fingers aside from the pinky. When these fingers are overused, it’s possible for you to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive motions such as typing are the most common causes for the development of this injury. A sore neck is also common when working in an office setting if you forget to keep your neck limber while sitting in a chair all day. Some additional overuse injuries for you to look out for include bursitis in the knee, shin splints, a stress fracture, rotator cuff syndrome, and compartment syndrome.
Prevention Tips to Consider
If you want to avoid suffering from any kind of overuse injury, the easiest way to do so is to correct your poor techniques and improve the way that you train. If you work in an office setting and are essentially required to sit at a desk for the entire day, it’s important that you stand up and stretch regularly to make sure that the muscles throughout your body remain limber and flexible. These breaks will also give your hands time to rest, which should reduce the chances that you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. You should bend and rotate your hands while performing repetitive activities like typing if you want to prevent these injuries from occurring.
If you’re starting a new activity or sport that you’ve never partaken in before, it’s important that you use the correct technique and that you wear the proper gear that’s necessary for the activity. For instance, you should always wear padded running or tennis shoes when exercising, which will lessen the amount of stress placed on the muscles in your feet and lower legs. When performing standard exercises like squats or pushups, it’s essential that you pace yourself. Around 15-30 minutes of well-paced physical activity every day should allow you to meet your fitness goals while avoiding any kind of overuse injuries. When you want to increase the intensity of your workout, make sure that you do so gradually. The muscles in your body need to get used to these changes so that they can adapt and become stronger.
The Role of Chiropractic Care With Overuse Injuries
Among the most effective methods for preventing and treating overuse injuries is chiropractic care. Most of the injuries caused by overusing the muscles and joints in your body can be corrected without needing to use treatment options like surgery or prescription medications. Once the source of your pain is diagnosed, you will be provided with a comprehensive treatment plan that’s designed to be personalized to fit your every need. These treatment plans can involve everything from physical therapy and rehabilitation to nutritional counseling. Overuse injuries can be caused by a multitude of factors, which is why treatment plans oftentimes incorporate multiple treatment options into a single plan.