Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: How it Works and What You Can Do About It

Whether Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is interfering with your work, crafts, or sleep, finding relief from pain quickly starts with understanding how CTS occurs.  CTS is the result of inflammation around the medial nerve passing from the forearm through the wrist into the cannal, also known as the “Carpal Tunnel.”  Although musicians and administrative assistants often feel that repetitive motion activities cause their pain, Harvard researcher, David Ring, MD told his fellow orthopedic surgeons in 2007 that the underlying cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome more often is genetic. Ring found that there is more evidence of narrow canals responsible for CTS and only weak evidence for typing and other repetitive movements of the hands. (Ring: 2007)

Inflammation can cause or aggravate inflammatory conditions at another site which explains why arthritis, obesity, and diabetes all raise the risk of this painful disorder. Conversely, blocking inflammation and treating it wherever it exists may also improve CTS.

The diagnosis of CTS can be made by a physician or chiropractor. Beyond a physical examination, lab studies are used to rule out arthritis, gout and diabetic nerve damage, any of which can mimic the symptoms of CTS.  Because each condition requires a different treatment approach, getting the right diagnosis is important.  Some measures can be taken even before a medical diagnosis is made.
Fascial manipulation, a massage technique offered through chiropractors and physical therapists is a non-invasive approach that involves manual manipulation of the fascia, a membrane of connective tissue that surrounds muscle and groups of muscles, blood vessels and nerves.  A study led by Dr. E. Pratelli and published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, January 2015, found fascial manipulation to significantly reduce pain. (Pratelli:2014)

Eating anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, fish, avocados, nuts and vegetables and avoiding sugar, wheat, processed foods and saturated fats can provide relief; likewise, positioning the wrists above the hands may minimize pain during periods at the computer keyboard or while playing a musical instrument. Another anti-inflammatory lifestyle intervention recommended by the National Institutes of Health is getting 6 ½ to 7 ½ hours of sleep each night and waking at the same time each day. (Sabanayagam: 2010)
Track the results of these interventions daily and identify which ones are providing optimal relief for your CTS.  There are no downsides to using them and their added benefit provides an overall feeling of well-being.   
Works Cited
Pratelli, Elisa, MD. “Conservative Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Comparison between Laser Therapy and Fascial Manipulation.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy 19.1 (2015): 113-18. Print.
Ring, David M., M.D. “Gentic Cause of Carpal Tunnel.” Proc. of 74th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, San Diego. 
Sabanayagam, Charumathi, M.D., Ph.D. “Sleep Duration and Cardiovascular Disease: Results from the National Health Interview Survey.” Web.

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