by Dr. Erin Carr, May 26, 2017
Recently, there has been a growing number of people seeking treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome or carpal tunnel like symptoms. This blog is to help those of you searching for a natural carpal tunnel cure…
The Evolution Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Years ago it was mainly writers, computer programmers, or gamers who were most at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Due to their constant clicking and typing overuse. However, currently as everyone continues to ramp use of technological devices. Whether it be tablets, smart phones, laptops, or desktop computers. Carpal tunnel syndrome and similar hand or wrist pain symptoms are now much more common throughout different age groups and professions.
What is a Carpal Tunnel?
Though Carpal Tunnel is defined by most as a physical condition of pain, numbness, or tingling. The name actually refers to a specific anatomical structure. The Carpal Tunnel resides in the junction of your wrist and hand. “Carpal” stems from the latin word “Carpus” that means: “the part of the upper extremity between the hand and the forearm; wrist.” The “Tunnel” refers to a tunnel of thick connective tissue on the bottom of the wrist and the palm of the hand. Inside this “tunnel” are nine tendons and one nerve. It is important to understand these tendons travel from your forearm, and the nerve travels from your neck, through your upper arm, forearm, and into your hand helping your fingers to flex. This nerve is called the median nerve. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms result from compressing, stretching or irritating the Median Nerve.
Understand the Median Nerve actually initiates from your neck. It exits from the C5-6 nerve root of your cervical spine. Knowing this, can help you understand that your carpal tunnel symptoms may also be stemming from your upper arm, shoulder or neck.
When treating carpal tunnel, many healthcare professionals overlook, or do not completely understand, this whole body perspective to treatment. Instead, they simply focus on and treat the area of pain at your hand and wrist. However, at Dr. Carr Integrative Physical Therapy, we have found great success when treating carpal tunnel utilizing this more complex perspective. Treating your nerve’s path in the entire upper body down to the wrist and hand is essential. (more on this later…)
What are Carpal Tunnel Symptoms?
The term carpal tunnel syndrome is used so frequently. You may think you have it when you actually do not. There are various types of hand or wrist pain that can be mistaken for it. But, If you answer, yes, to any of the questions below you may have authentic symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Do you experience tightness or burning sensations in your forearm?
Do you feel pain, numbness, or tingling in your thumb, index finger, middle finger, or part of your ring finger?
Is it painful when you bend or flex your wrist?
Have you woken up in the night feeling pain, numbness, or tingling in your hand or wrist?
Are you shaking out your hand to relieve the pain or tingling sensation?
Have you had the feeling of clumsiness or lack of dexterity in your fingers?
Is there muscle atrophy (weakness) in your palm affecting your strength?
Was there a past trauma or surgery in your affected hand that has left scar tissue?
Carpal Tunnel VS. Cervical Radiculopathy
As mentioned earlier the median nerve can become inflamed traveling through your carpal tunnel. The Median Nerve initiates at the neck. Along it’s path to your wrist, the nerve may get entrapped in multiple areas before it reaches your hand. Potential entrapment areas include your neck, rib cage, shoulder or arm. When the nerve is entrapped at your neck, the medical term is called cervical radiculopathy.
Cervical radiculopathy, and other nerve entrapment areas, can contribute to many types of hand and wrist pain including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is an important piece of the puzzle for a natural carpal tunnel cure solution. As part of an appropriate treatment, a skilled integrative physical therapist should be familiar with these related factors. Treatments that help unwind or untangle your median nerve from structures on the path from your neck to your hand can be essential to resolving the pain.
Optimal Natural Carpal Tunnel Cure?
Throughout past decades as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome grew along side the growth of computer use. Surgery was considered one of the only carpal tunnel cures. And in many cases was incorrectly thought to be a quick fix to a patient’s wrist pain problems. Though in extreme cases surgery may be necessary. In my opinion, surgery should always be your absolute last option… To be considered only after you have exhausted all other less invasive treatment options. There can be significant side effects after surgery that may last a lifetime. For instance, the creation of significant amounts of new scar tissue in the area of the surgery. Although there are treatments to help reduce the amount of scarring. Scar tissue in and of itself creates further blockages that further hinder your body’s ability to efficiently heal completely.
In addition, it is important to remember if part of your original symptoms stem from the Median Nerve, or other nerve entanglements, in your upper body or neck. A surgical procedure on your carpal tunnel in the wrist area may not fix the source of the issue. The potential problems in your upper body’s anatomical structures will continue to persist. If these additional areas are not addressed and resolved you may experience serious neck, back and or additional hand and wrist issues later in life.
The good news is, in many cases, your symptoms can resolve and naturally heal fairly easily with appropriate treatment. Understanding the global perspective regarding the cause and contributing factors to your pain is important. Integrative treatments that address a whole body perspective to treatment can be very good at reducing pain and naturally providing a cure to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms. Specifically Whole Body Physical Therapy(tm) manual treatments can be very beneficial in providing a natural Carpal Tunnel cure.
It is best to seek these gentle carpal tunnel treatments in the early signs of symptoms or pain. Postponing treatment for months or years after the issue began complicates the solution. You are better to nip things in the bud at its first sign.
Recommended Treatments For Natural Carpal Tunnel Cures
- Specific Whole Body Physical Therapy hands on treatments – At Dr. Carr Integrative Physical Therapy we have developed unique techniques to help you heal. A mix of some of the best proven Western, Eastern, and European hands on healing methods. I have coined the name for this more advanced method of treatment “Whole Body Physical Therapy(tm)” I have seen great results for patients who may have struggled to find a Carpal Tunnel cure with other health practitioners before. The Whole Body Physical Therapy approach helps improve your nerve’s health, resolves scar tissue, improve fascia and calm muscle restrictions. Issues that are important for decompressing your median nerve throughout the upper body.
- Nerve mobility – Whole Body Physical Therapy treatments include special hands on nerve relaxation techniques. These techniques can greatly improve your nerve’s health. Providing a natural increase in mobility and strength in your arm and wrist. Combined with customized physical therapy exercises helping you to “glide and floss” your nerve where it gets trapped in your wrist or other areas of your upper body.
- Wrist mobility – Your wrist may stiffen up when you experience carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Enhancing your wrist mobility can helpful as part of a carpal tunnel cure to the local area. Please note, mobility does not necessarily mean stretching. Sustained stretches can actually aggravate your median nerve making your symptoms worse. Rather gentle improve the range of motion at your wrist and fingers by drawing the alphabet with your wrist to your hand(not fingers) and gently flexing your wrist & hand up and down or in a circular motion.
- Strength Conditioning – Ask your health practitioner to provide examples of exercises that help you improve grip strength, dexterity and fine motor skills. Basic writing or drawing exercises can helpful for fine motor and functional use of your hand. Practitioner prescribed exercises can activate your median nerve and feed the muscles and tendons in your fingers, hand and forearm.
- Tendon Gliding – Customized therapist prescribed treatments addressing your tendons moving through your carpal tunnel allow improved mobility. Tendons need to glide through your hand and each finger joint rather than stretch.
How Body Positioning Affects Your Ability To Maintain A Carpal Tunnel Cure
If you do not have your desk, chair, keyboard and mouse set up ergonomically correct. Or if you have poor posture, a domino effect of upper back, neck, shoulder elbow and hand pain can occur. Continuing with the unhealthy posture will stop other medical treatments from being as effective. Be mindful of your own body mechanics while interacting with smart technology as well (ie. smartphones & tablets). Consistently using your hands and wrists in an unsupported fashion, or at awkward angles while browsing on your phone or tablet can contribute Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as well as other hand and wrist pain symptoms.
Sleeping posture may also contribute to your continued pain. Wearing a splint while you sleep can help. It prevents you from flexing your wrist inappropriately while in dreamland which can further aggravate your symptoms. The splint can help you stabilize the area, decrease inflammation and pain, and improve your function for the next day.
Addressing your sitting, standing, holding, working, and sleeping habits can all be a helpful part in a Natural Carpal Tunnel Cure Solution.
Keep In Mind
Finding a practitioner who has mastered an understanding of integrative hands on treatments is very important. A carpal tunnel cure protocol should not only focus on your wrist and hand, where your symptoms manifest. The best treatment focuses on the whole body, especially the related to balancing the structures in your upper body.
When you decide where to go for manual treatments, make sure you choose someone who has a thorough knowledge of Cervical Radiculopathy and how it can relate to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. When it comes to exercise, be careful. Do not over do it or push too hard. You do not want to further inflame the area of your pain. If you begin feeling increased discomfort or pain while performing an exercise take a break or decrease the time duration of the exercise. Over time, you can increase the sets and reps as your mobility and strength improve.
When Your Looking For A Practitioner to Provide A Natural Carpal Tunnel Cure We Can Help
As mentioned earlier, Dr. Carr Integrative Physical therapy has helped many patients successfully reduce or cure carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms as well as many other hand and wrist pain issues. Our physical therapists always use the Whole Body Physical Therapy hands on approach to understand and heal your injury. We assess and treat your additional inner systems, networks, and pathways of your body that can affect and increase your ability to heal.
Also, as part of our all inclusive Whole Body Physical Therapy treatment plan, we work with our patients to specifically educate and advise proper technology ergonomics, sitting posture, workstation layout, as well as carrying and lifting mechanics. This is a simple but essential part of your learning process to maintain a long term natural Carpal Tunnel Cure without surgery. If you are in the Los Angeles area or would like to fly in to LA to start your healing process at our clinic, feel free to contact us anytime.
Whether you are beginning to feel the affects of overuse or have been struggling with intensifying Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms over several years… There can be a light at the end of the tunnel 🙂
Dr. Erin Carr is owner and head practitioner of Dr. Carr Integrative Physical Therapy. Dr Carr has been featured in Malibu Times Magazine as a “Local Specialist”. Dr. Carr Integrative Physical Therapy’s therapists offer carpal tunnel treatment along with a variety of other Whole Body Physical Therapy techniques to help patients with all types of injuries. We provide in office visits at our clinic in Santa Monica as well as off site home physical therapy and corporate office physical therapy for patients throughout many areas of Los Angeles, CA.