Let’s talk about a common condition called carpal tunnel syndrome. Most people think this condition has an easy diagnosis. However, it is one of the most common misdiagnosed conditions we see in our office. The majority of people suffering from wrist pain don’t really have carpal tunnel.
What is Carpal Tunnel?
What is carpal tunnel? It is an irritation of a group of nerves or a specific nerve that travels and follows through a certain part of the wrist. That nerve is called the median nerve. All this means is that the median nerve is part of a group of nerves that go down both arms. These nerves come from the neck. Imagine that you have a group of nerves that all come together and form different smaller nerves. The median nerve, is underneath a little ligament in the wrist. Carpal tunnel specifically means that the median nerve is being trapped or pinched in the carpal tunnel area.
The problem is most people with pain going down their arm automatically think it’s carpal tunnel and will self-diagnose or get the wrong diagnosis from their family doctor. Everyone thinks it is carpal tunnel, surgery occurs but the pain does not go away. There is a common trait that we see in our office with people with arm pain or numbness or pins and needles in their fingers and that is forward head posture.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel
Keeping your head forward while you are working, driving, on your phone or computer, even sitting watching TV creates direct pressure and stress on the nerves in the neck. Remember where the nerves go from the neck; down the shoulder and arms right into the fingers. So it’s likely that if someone has a forward head posture they are not going to have proper nerve flow going down the arms and those nerves will be pinched. But not in the carpal tunnel area, they will be compromised in the neck area.
How do you know you have carpal tunnel and not nerve problems that originate in the neck? Carpal tunnel only affects the thumb, index, and middle finger. Pain is usually from the wrist to the elbow and there is a difficulty when making a fist. It is extremely important that people get the proper diagnosis and have surgery only when it is required. A proper diagnosis leads to a proper treatment plan and increasing your quality of life afterward. As a chiropractor I need to find where that nerve pain is coming from and when there is the pain going down the arm, 90% of the time there is a neck problem.
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