Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) has traditionally been defined as an entrapment of the median nerve inside the carpal tunnel of your wrist. The floor of the carpal tunnel is made of eight carpals or wrist bones. The roof of the tunnel is a ligament (the transverse carpal ligament) that stretches from one side of the tunnel to the other. The space that is formed between the carpal bones and the transverse carpal ligament is about the size of your pinky. Nine flexor tendons (tendons attach muscle to bone), blood vessels, and the median nerve pass through the carpal tunnel. The traditional definition of CTS is compression of the median nerve as it passes through that tunnel. Nerves are very sensitive and can easily get “pinched” or “compressed.” If the median nerve gets pinched or compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel — it causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It is commonly thought that an injury or repetitive stress to the wrist can cause such an injury.
The problem with all this! There is another condition that causes the exact same symptoms as CTS that has little or nothing to do with the wrist! This condition is called Double Crush Syndrome (DCS) and here’s how it works. There are many sites that can compress a nerve as it goes from your brain and spinal cord to your wrist. Simply put, DCS occurs when you have multiple compression sites. More importantly, a compression site closer to the spinal cord, neck, and brain makes it much easier for a nerve to be compressed elsewhere, like the wrist. In plain English; you would have carpal tunnel symptoms if you only had compression in your wrist. The most common sites of compression/entrapment are muscles in your forearm called the pronator teres, the thoracic outlet (by your shoulder), and your neck.
Specific chiropractic care can work wonders for CTS when all else has failed. By gently restoring the function of your neck, shoulder, and/or wrist, compression on the nerve can be relieved. This eliminates DCS, which may be the true cause of your CTS. Add in pulsed cold laser therapy to help the healing of the nerve and you have a recipe for success with conservative treatment. But first, a complete evaluation is needed to detect if your carpal tunnel symptoms are coming from one of the other compression/entrapment sites like your forearm, shoulder, or neck. If you are unsure if you have CTS or DCS, visit our office for a free consultation to see if we are the right fit for you.