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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What Are The “Warning Signs”?

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CTS is caused by the compression of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist. Mild symptoms include numbness or pain in your hand/wrist, occasional tingling sensation, reduced strength and grip in your fingers. Thumb muscle atrophy (reduced muscle tone on the palm side of the thumb, at the thumb base) is the last stage of nerve injury in CTS.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is caused by the compression of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist, which can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and in some cases, a weak grip.

At first, these symptoms are mild and infrequent, but over time can become more intense, frequent, and last longer.

Most people do not react to these initial warning signs, which is too bad because CTS is “much” easier to treat in its early stages.

What Are The Risks For Developing CTS?

Risks for developing CTS include:

  • Female (primarily due to hormonal shifts and smaller carpal tunnel size)
  • Jobs requiring forceful gripping (carpenters, tradesmen) and/or fast repetitive work (line assembly, poultry/meat packing jobs, typists/transcriptionists)
  • Illnesses (diabetes, hypothyroid, inflammatory arthritis)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sports injuries (trauma)

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Non-surgical care from most doctors includes the use of a nighttime wrist splint to stop the wrist from bending during sleep and anti-inflammatory measures like ice.

Methods unique to chiropractic include the above plus neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand manipulation, mobilization, and muscle release techniques.

Exercise training and education is very important as well, all of which help chiropractic stand out when it comes to non-surgical care options.

Warning Signs

Serious warning signs that indicate a more advanced case include:

  • A long-standing history of problems (often years!) with severe symptoms.
  • Muscle atrophy caused by prolonged nerve deficit from the pinched median nerve (look at the pad on the palm-side at the base of the thumb – if it is smaller in size and “flaccid” or has less muscle tone compared to the other side, that is a possible sign of muscle atrophy).

So if you are having early warning signs of CTS, please consult with a doctor of chiropractic as soon as possible!

It is much easier to achieve a successful outcome if you start treatment “before” muscle atrophy and severe, long-standing symptoms occur!

Dr. Blake Kalkstein DC, MS, CCSP, TPI, ART

While earning his D.C. degree, Dr. Blake worked as a chiropractic intern at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital in Bethesda, MD where he had the privilege to work in the amputee rehabilitation center. Dr. Blake’s post graduate sports medicine internship with John’s Hopkins Sports Medicine orthopedic surgeons allowed him to observe all types of injuries. Guidance from Dr. John Wilckens, team orthopedist for the Baltimore Orioles and his internship supervisor, led Dr. Blake to better understand advanced orthopedic and sports injuries and ways to appropriately manage each condition.

Dr. Blake Kalkstein DC, MS, CCSP, TPI, ART

While earning his D.C. degree, Dr. Blake worked as a chiropractic intern at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital in Bethesda, MD where he had the privilege to work in the amputee rehabilitation center. Dr. Blake’s post graduate sports medicine internship with John’s Hopkins Sports Medicine orthopedic surgeons allowed him to observe all types of injuries. Guidance from Dr. John Wilckens, team orthopedist for the Baltimore Orioles and his internship supervisor, led Dr. Blake to better understand advanced orthopedic and sports injuries and ways to appropriately manage each condition.