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One of the common conditions I treat in my practice is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is understandable due to our sedentary life behind computers, specially using the keyboard most of the time and resuming an unnatural posture almost daily. In this article, I will fully dissect this issue as well as go over some of the common conditions that falsely mimic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

WHAT CAUSES CARPAL TUNNEL SYMPTOMS?

Not every arm pain, arm ache, pins and needles in hands, hand pain and wrist pain is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In fact, it takes quite a bit of ‘insult’ before the Median nerve, which passes through the wrist where the watch band typically covers, is impacted. While Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is typically seen as a right hand pain or soreness, it can be seen in the left hand as well.

One does not have to be an office worker to experience it as repetitive extension of the wrist over time can lead to symptoms of Carpal Tunnel stress. An activity as simple as carrying too many bags of groceries on each hand can bring your subclinical Median nerve irritation to the surface.

SYMPTOMS OF CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME:

Pins and needles in the hands, sore arm, hand pain, wrist pain and decrease in the grip strength are the most common complaints of individuals suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In severe cases, sufferers lose sleep due to pain and miss many days of work due to their inability to perform their tasks.

THE IMPOSTER:

The most common imposter of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the trigger points in the muscle close to the elbow that is active when rotating the wrist (put your hand over the arm close to the elbow and start turning your arm to feel the muscle) as if screwing and unscrewing a jar top.

Another involved muscle is the one between the radius and ulna, the two long bones of the forearm. In fact, I am yet to see a true case of Carpal Tunnel and most misdiagnosed cases with that title!! These trigger points shoot pain down the arm and in many cases weaken the grip strength which are typically seen in Carpal Tunnel cases.

WHAT IS CARPAL TUNNEL SURGERY:

Under the medical model, physical therapy is the first approach after pain medications and that includes modalities such as Ultrasound and Electrical muscle stimulation, ending with wrist and shoulder exercises.

These all have value in the proper care but it is not sufficient. Unfortunately, Carpal Tunnel release where the retinaculum, nature’s ‘wrist band’ around the tendons and Median nerve going to the hands, is removed with the hopes that the problem gets solved. Unfortunately, in my practice I see so many cases of this surgery providing some relief, with the symptoms returning before long as well as a series of other issues related to the fact that the ‘supporter’ of the soft tissues going into the wrist having been removed.

NATURAL TREATMENT OF CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME:

Just as all proper natural approach to eliminate a health problem, lifestyle of the individual is to be evaluated. In this case, eliminating bad work environment plays a huge role in preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. You may want to check out this checklist to self evaluate your work environment. You may email me your picture and let me give you my recommendations for potential recommendations and modifications.

After evaluating the patient, I preform ART, Active Release Technique of the involved muscles I mentioned earlier in this blog. Active Release Technique for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is no different than other ART performed elsewhere in the body in that it requires pressure over certain spots while the joint goes through specific ranges of motion.

Everything is related to everything else!!! You have heard this before and will hear it here again. You CANNOT have issues related to your wrist without impacting the elbow, shoulder and neck. The nerves originating from the neck essentially go down your arm. Therefore, assuring those nerves are not irritated is crucial in the proper treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. All of the mentioned joints are assessed for proper function and if needed, get adjusted.

Cold laser therapy is another modality that I use especially at the beginning of treatment to help jumpstart the tissue repair process. This modality as well as Ultrasound are specially important at the onset of the symptoms related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Electrical Muscle Stimulation of the arm and neck muscles helps relieve some of the muscle tension but does not necessarily treat this condition.

Let’s not forge the importance of proper nutrition in the holistic treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Just as with any soft tissue injury, an increase in protein and Vitamin C intake is important. Since there is at least some degree of inflammation present to say the least, I recommend organic ginger shaving made into a tea, with or without honey, once or twice a day as well as Curcumin pills once a day.

The tea is something that you may need to develop a taste for and I recommend that for every one, with or without Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, to take on a daily basis. As for fruit of choice, in general all berries- as long as they are organic- are a great choice of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory foods.

Being a smart owner of this machine we call our body is so much easier and more fun than having to do repairs all the time. We are all the Designers and the Directors of our own life so why not design and direct it the way we wish to live it?

Dr. Shakib