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Do I Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

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Chiropractic Care and Musculoskeletal Pain

Many musculoskeletal problems, including symptoms masquerading as carpal tunnel syndrome, are effectively managed by chiropractic care. The key, as always, lies in accurate evaluation of the cause of the patient's pain patterns.

To a very large extent, physical pain involving the spine, arms, and legs is related to mechanical joint dysfunction. There are exceptions, of course, including pain caused by a severe acute injury or an inflammatory condition such as ankylosing spondylitis. But in most cases, chiropractic care will provide a solution to a person's musculoskeletal pain, resulting in a reduction or even a resolution of the problem.

It's important to remember that most painful symptoms don't just happen on their own. Your chiropractor will do more than address the problem at hand. He or she may also help you design an effective exercise program and a healthful nutrition plan to optimize your health and well-being over the long-term.

Many people believe they have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The majority have been told by their medical doctor that they have CTS. Others have mistakenly concluded that because they have some numbness and tingling in their wrist or hand, they must have this neurological disorder. Still others have ongoing forearm, wrist, or hand pain (possibly localized to the thumb and/or index finger), and are led by articles they've read on the Internet to diagnose themselves with CTS. Almost all of this is in error.1,2

Why are so many diagnoses of this condition mistaken? The primary culprit is lazy clinical decision-making, compounded by a failure to understand correctly the workings of the musculoskeletal system. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a specific diagnosis which involves mechanical pressure on the median nerve as it passes through a small tunnel in the wrist created by tiny adjoining bones. There's not much room in this carpal tunnel and its dimensions can be narrowed further by inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnancy can lead to CTS owing to increased fluid retention. Repetitive stress may lead to inflammation of tendons that cross the wrist. Such inflammation may lead to soft tissue swelling which compresses the carpal tunnel, causing CTS. Various other disorders should also be considered when CTS is suspected.

Importantly, CTS is not a catchall diagnosis to be used when a person has forearm, wrist, and/or hand pain. If a person really has CTS, he or she will have specific symptoms. The person will awaken at night owing to pain and/or numbness and tingling. Symptoms will be precisely located to the thumb and index finger (possibly involving the middle finger). Wrist pain may or may not be present. Also, the person will demonstrate a weakness of pinch grip involving the thumb and index finger. If these signs and symptoms are not present, the person does not have carpal tunnel syndrome. Usually, the diagnosis is clearcut and does not require special tests such as electromyography.

Remarkably, most physicians, regardless of specialty, are unaware of these important criteria. If the patient has pain and/or numbness in the hand, the patient has CTS. Case closed. This lack of sophistication leads to real harm done to the patient, such as unnecessary tests which waste time, cost a lot of money, and may result in damaging surgery which is not curative as it was directed at a problem that really wasn't there.

In marked contrast, chiropractors are highly trained in accurate analysis of musculoskeletal problems involving the shoulder, arm, and hand.3 When patients have symptoms mimicking those of carpal tunnel syndrome, chiropractors use their broad knowledge and experience to correctly evaluate the situation. For example, spinal dysfunction, muscle spasm, and trigger points can all cause symptoms which appear to be those of CTS. Chiropractors are able to see through this masquerade and effectively address the real underlying problems.

1Ibrahim I, et al: Carpal tunnel syndrome. Review of the recent literature. Open Orthop J 6:69-75, 2012
2Uchiyama S, et al: Current concepts of carpal tunnel syndrome: pathophysiology, treatment, and evaluation. J Orthop Sci 15(1):1-13, 2010
3Bialosky JE, et al: Heightened pain sensitivity in individuals with signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and the relationship to clinical outcomes following a manual therapy intervention. Man Ther 16(6):602-608, 2011

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Testimonial

I slipped on ice in December, landing hard on my behind. I was in excruciating pain and could barely move. It was a Saturday night but I called the office and left a message (new patient, too, found them on Google.) I received a call back first thing Monday morning, they got me right in that day, and I just completed my 3- month treatment plan. I feel so much better and am happy to have found Dr. Ide and his staff.

    ~Amy Hawker
     Fenton, MI

Dr. Ide and his staff are awesome. I had all but given up and I saw his ad. I am s happy to be out of partial pain and I have only gone twice, I cannot wait for the end results. Just to be pain free. Dr. Ide, I thank you so much.

    ~Patsy Dimond-Spencer
     Fenton, MI

Dr. Ide and his staff have given me my life back. The day I called to make my first appointment I had been suffering from a migraine and severe neck pain for 6 days. This was also after receiving multiple pain injections from my primary physician with no relief. His staff not only verified my insurance was accepted at this location before even offering me an appointment time (which multiple offices will not do this) over the phone but I was able to make an appointment for the same day. Dr. Ide took the time to obtain pertinent patient history and not only explain but he also showed me on my x-rays why I was experiencing pain. He addressed the root of the problem instead of pushing prescriptions to subside your symptoms. HE discussed my POA in detail and reiterated why finishing therapy and continuing home therapy was important. I was hesitant and nervous about my first adjustment but again, he took the time to walk me through each step. Paired with my weekly adjustments I also receive massage therapy. Monica, the massage therapist is incredible. She takes the time to ask specific questions before the massage to ensure she provides the best care possible. Kasey, Dr. Ide's assistant is extremely personable and continues to make sure you feel comfortable throughout your visit. The front staff also provides a warm and welcoming environment. Within my first month of treatment, I'm able to go das without a headache now and I have reduced the frequency of my pain medication. I highly recommend Dr. Ide and his staff!

    ~Leah Craig
     Fenton, MI

Very friendly staff and knowledgeable doctor! After doing a 3 month program, I no longer have daily headaches, back pain or neck pain. Most doctor's adjust your back and send you on your way - Dr. Ide makes sure to turn it into a lifestyle change by improving your posture and fixing any issues you may have. I would definitely recommend him over any chiropractor.

    ~Lauren Dunigan
     Fenton, MI

I always have good service and leave feeling good! The people are nice and all know my name. I really like how they do business for senior citizens... that's a big plus!

    ~Nancy Matson
     Fenton, MI

Very extensive in the examination. Not like other chiropractors I'd seen who just do a quick adjustment. They diagnosed the problem and are working to correct it with me. They have even went so far as to work out payment arguments for the things my insurance wouldn't cover.

    ~Brandon Ogle
     Fenton, MI

I had neck and shoulder pain since 2010. Ever since I started going to him I have felt better and better!

    ~Andrel Jacobs
     Fenton, MI

I had ankle problems all my life in my left foot. Dr. Ide adjusted my ankle for me and within one adjustment my ankle felt the best ever. Thanks Dr. Ide!

    ~A.H.
     Fenton, MI

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