Can A Chiropractor Really Diagnose And Treat Your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?


You might think of chiropractic work as working on the back and spine. That's true; chiropractors do that, and they help a lot of people with problems like headaches, shoulder stiffness and lower back pain. The principles of chiropractic care can also help alleviate symptoms from other common, painful ailments, like carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you suffer from carpal tunnel, you already know what it feels like: burning, tingling and numbness in the hands, fingers and thumb. It happens when the median nerve running through the carpal tunnel in the wrist gets compressed due to inflammation. Severe cases make it hard to grip or even sense hot and cold.

Most employed people get it because of some repetitious motion they have to perform at work: The Center for Disease Control's 2010 study found that 69.4 percent of those diagnosed with carpal tunnel got it at their place of employment. It's most often found in manufacturing, sewing, cleaning and meatpacking, among other industries. Not only does carpal tunnel begin at work, it costs employers a lot. The average carpal tunnel sufferer loses about $30,000 in medical bills and time off work. It makes sense for both employers and the affected employees to seek less-invasive chiropractic care to reduce symptoms.

How Do Chiropractors Diagnose Carpal Tunnel?

There are three common ways that chiropractors, such as Reinecke Chiropractor, will test for carpal tunnel syndrome. The most common of these put pressure on the tunnel and nerve to try and reproduce symptoms. They are:

  • Provocative tests. There are a few different types of this test, but the idea is to put pressure on the median nerve. Sometimes the wrist is positioned in a flexed position for a set amount of time, and in other versions a cuff is positioned on the wrist in front of the carpal tunnel and inflated to increase pressure.
  • Carpal compression test. The doctor applies pressure with both thumbs directly on the carpal tunnel and median nerve to see if symptoms occur.
  • Electrodiagnostic test. This usually confirms the results from one of the other two tests. Electrodes on your skin measure how fast electrical impulses travel across your wrist. They'll be slower if carpal tunnel syndrome has reduced the pathway.

What Treatments Do Chiropractors Use for Carpal Tunnel?

Almost every type of medical practitioner, including chiropractors, will begin by having you rest and ice the inflamed wrist. For more mild cases, rest and avoidance of the repetitive actions that may be causing issues are all it takes to see improvement.

Other actions your chiropractor may suggest:

  • Joint manipulation and mobilization of the wrist and hand
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Soft-tissue mobilization techniques
  • Wearing a splint on the wrist to assist with keeping it immobile and rested
  • Alternative therapies like yoga or acupuncture

A last-resort treatment is surgery. Usually, your chiropractor will be able to use the techniques above to help you avoid surgery, especially if you catch the problem early when symptoms first begin.

Note that sometimes carpal tunnel treatment can take a long time and work slowly. Damage that was done to the wrist took time to happen, and it can take a while to reduce the inflammation and resulting damage. Talk to your chiropractor about whether you have carpal tunnel and what treatment is right for you.


13 January 2015

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