Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a fairly wide-known condition. Numbness, pain in the hands, usually someone who types a lot, funny looking braces you have to wear at night. You’ve probably met a few people that fit this narrative. Treatment usually includes some steroids or anti-inflammatories, the above mentioned brace, some stretching, and at worse it can involve surgery.
According to WebMD – Carpal Tunnel is caused by pressure on the Median Nerve at the wrist – and that’s exactly what Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is. The interesting part is this: the Median Nerve can have pressure on it at other areas too – above the wrist in the arm, shoulder, and neck. These common areas of pressure are called Peripheral Nerve Entrapment Sites and can produce symptoms similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The nerve traced above is somewhat deep and will course around many muscular intersections – this is where the nerve may become stuck (entrapped) and is irritated. Another site of common entrapment is in the neck, between the scalene muscles as seen in the picture below. At this site, the Median Nerve is part of a nerve bundle called the Brachial Plexus.
Now that we understand Carpal Tunnel Syndrome isn’t always caused by Median Nerve pressure at the wrist, what are the other options for treatment? Here are the steps we would go through:
Movement analysis and orthopedic testing to find the entrapment sites and any biomechanical faults that may be causing the irritation.
Help decrease the irritation or entrapment using Active Release Techniques, joint manipulation or adjustments, and Nerve Flossing (a method to slide the nerves to keep them from becoming entrapped again).
Work with your physician, if necessary, for further advanced testing to assess for nerve damage and nerve function.
Corrective Exercises and activity modifications to help combat future nerve entrapment issues.
If you aren’t seeing results with the normal treatment for your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, look into the options bulleted above, especially before you have surgery.