Treating Carpal Tunnel with Chiropractic

It’s a familiar feeling – you wake up in the morning and the first thing you notice is the numbness, tingling and shooting pains in your wrists.

You probably suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).


You’re not alone. CTS – or, as it’s sometimes called, medial nerve compression – afflicts more than 3 million Americans every year. Misery loves company, doesn’t it?

You know your debilitating condition has no cure, and you’ve tried treatments like icing and even cortisone injections, to no avail.

However, there’s a treatment you probably haven’t tried yet, and that’s chiropractic therapy.

Chiropractic for CTS?

Contrary to what many people think, chiropractic can help treat conditions other than those affecting the neck and the back. Chiropractic therapy is especially effective when it comes to alleviating symptoms of repetitive stress injuries – and your CTS counts as one.

How can your chiropractor restore the feeling – and make the pain go away – in your hands and wrists?

The Chiropractic Process

Chiropractic refers to an alternative medicine that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of people with musculoskeletal disorders. A chiropractor will address your symptoms by manipulating – pushing and moving – the bones in your spine and joints.

When it comes to CTS, a chiropractor can help you using a few different techniques:

1. Manipulation of Arm, Wrist or Spine

When your carpals – the eight bones that come together at your wrist – become misaligned, the tendons become compressed, leading to your CTS symptoms. Chiropractic manipulations of your wrist, arm or elbow can take some of the pressure off the tendons and the medial nerve.

For example, your chiropractor may engage you in wrist-strengthening exercises like squeezing and stretching putty.

Many chiropractors also believe that CTS can be caused by misalignment of the spine, so they’ll work on adjusting that, too. These spinal manipulations can correct this misalignment and potentially reduce your CTS symptoms.

Chiropractors will typically use their hands to conduct this manipulation, using a technique called the high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, although sometimes they also use devices like electric stimulation and traction machines that stretch the spine.

2. Ultrasound Therapy

Sometimes, your chiropractor might practice ultrasound therapy.

Ultrasound therapy uses sound waves – either low-energy or high-energy sound, outside of the range of human hearing – to relax and heal deep muscle tissue.

Preliminary studies have found that ultrasound therapy, applied to the wrists and arms, can help CTS patients achieve short-term relief from symptoms including numbness, tingling and pain.

3. Wrist Splints

In addition to the therapeutic techniques above, your chiropractor may offer you wrist splints. These carpal supports keep your wrists properly aligned, and you can wear them in between chiropractic sessions for continued symptom relief.

4. Rest

This one sounds obvious, but your chiropractor will probably advise you to rest that wrist and arm between sessions to achieve the best chance at symptom relief.

After all, CTS is a repetitive stress injury – so seriously, stop repeating the stress. Take a few days off from work, or if you can’t, at least take a few minutes a day away from the computer.

Your CTS symptoms will thank you for it.

How Often Do I Have to See My Chiropractor?

The frequency of your visits will depend on the severity of your CTS symptoms and your chiropractor’s initial assessment.

Usually, your chiropractor will schedule you for once weekly visits over a period of time. However, you may initially need up to three visits per week to alleviate your symptoms if you’ve been a long-time sufferer with numbness, tingling or pain that is especially severe.

Does Chiropractic Work for Everyone?

The answer is unfortunately no, but what treatment does? Research has shown that chiropractic techniques often work for some but not others – but it’s still unclear why that’s the case.

Regardless, what do you have to lose? You may be one of the lucky ones.

So get off the computer now – you know it’s bad for your wrists to be typing – and pick up your cellphone. There’s probably a chiropractor waiting for you.

Sometimes, a little manipulation isn’t a bad thing.

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer, and she blogs at Miss Rx. You can see more of her work or get in touch by following @foodierx on Twitter.

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