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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment

A Springfield, IL Chiropractor’s Perspective

The upper extremity is one of the most incredible parts of the human body. The amount of different types of movements, from small, delicate movements to large, forceful movements that it performs is almost overwhelming. Only when we experience an injury or dysfunction in the upper extremity do we really get a sense of just how much we depend on this vital structure. This is no more true than with the hand and wrist, which provide a near-infinite amount of fine motor movements and provide our brain and nervous system with an endless supply of sensory information.

A major component for why the wrist and hand operate the way it does is the carpal tunnel. This structure is formed by a large band of tissue that wraps around the wrist. Underneath this tissue are muscle tendons that extend to the fingers, blood vessels, and the median nerve. The median nerve is responsible for controlling most of the muscle movements of the thumb, index, and middle fingers. It also allows us to maintain our grip strength, which is necessary for a variety of activities of daily living. When there is dysfunction or inflammation within the carpal tunnel, the fluid inside can increase the pressure on the median nerve, causing symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and fingers. This is known as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Commonly, carpal tunnel syndrome is treated medically with a combination of medications, steroid injections, and, if those are unsuccessful, surgery. These types of treatments can bring unwanted side effects, and pose more risk to the patient. The good news is, there are ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome conservatively. At the The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center, we use a combination of many different treatments to address the underlying cause of your problem and help you heal in a natural, safe way.

Consultation and Exam

When you come to the The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center as a new patient, your first visit will consist of a consultation and examination. Before beginning care, your doctor wants to get to know you and understand your problem. You will review your history of the discomfort you are experiencing and how long it has been affecting you. Your doctor also wants to know how this problem has been impacting your life. Many people with carpal tunnel syndrome have difficulty working, especially if their work involves extensive computer use. This information helps your doctor understand you and ensures that the best recommendations for fixing the problem will be given to you.

After the consultation, your doctor will do a detailed exam in which orthopedic, neurologic, and functional movement testing will be performed. This will help the doctor understand your condition and what the root of the problem is. A consult and examination gives us a broader picture of what is going on and helps the doctor customize your treatment plan so that it will serve you best and get you back to doing the things that are important to you.

Specific Chiropractic Care

As chiropractors, we always look to the spine for the source of dysfunction and disease. However, carpal tunnel syndrome is a uniquely specific problem to the wrist. Even so, chiropractors are trained to evaluate and treat the wrist. After all, many tiny bones make up the wrist, which means there are many tiny joints there. If any of those joints are restricted, or if the bones are not positioned correctly, this can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome occurring in the first place. Utilizing gentle manipulations to the wrist, chiropractors are able to release these restrictions and re-establish alignment of the carpal bones that make up the wrist. These adjustments improve range of motion, decrease pain, and provide a boost to the body’s ability to heal from this problem.

Therapeutic Exercise

It is no secret that our bodies heal best through movement. This is why in many carpal tunnel syndrome cases we will recommend therapeutic exercise to further assist in the healing process. This corrective exercise seeks to re-establish balance in the particular region, which usually involves a combination of strengthening and stabilizing certain areas, while stretching and loosening others. This improves function in the affected region, which in this case is the wrist and upper extremity as a whole. As part of your care, not only will you be doing exercise with our trainer in the office, but you will also be given home exercises that you must do to maximize the results from your care.

Soft Tissue Work

Another critical component of treating carpal tunnel syndrome is helping the muscles to function more optimally. At our office, we do this through different types of muscle work. Remember, many muscle tendons pass through the carpal tunnel that can be negatively affected by inflammation. The muscle bellies themselves are in the forearm closer to the elbow, but the tendons are long and travel through the carpal tunnel all the way to the fingertips. Utilizing muscle work can help alleviate muscle tightness and tension and help restore normal function. Graston and Active Release Technique (ART) are two common muscle therapies utilized at the The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center. Both aim to remove adhesions in the muscle that can disrupt function. Graston uses metal tools to accomplish this, while ART utilizes dynamic stretching movements to achieve the desired effect. Both work very well for treating carpal tunnel syndrome in conjunction with other treatment modalities.

Deep Tissue Laser

At The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center, we leverage technology to help our patients even more. One of the ways we do this for people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome is using Deep Tissue Laser. This treatment is a fast and efficient way to help decrease inflammation and accelerate the healing process, which are two things that need to happen in order to properly treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Deep Tissue Laser uses light energy that penetrates deep into the cells of the tissue, which stimulates energy production. This energy is used towards reducing the inflammation within the carpal tunnel and allows the nerves and muscle tendons to heal in a more timely manner. When used in combination with other therapies such as chiropractic and muscle work, deep tissue laser therapy can help patients get better results faster.

Numbness or Tingling

Often described as “Pins and Needles”, a common symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness or tingling in your hands or fingers. The thumb, index, middle, and/or ring fingers are usually affected, while the pinkie can evade the abnormal sensation. Some patients even describe it as being similar to an electric shock. The sensation is not always isolated to the hands and wrist, it can sometimes travel up your arm. Symptoms often occur at night, as most people sleep with their wrist bent placing pressure on the median nerve, and can even wake people sleep. During the day symptoms can be brought on by doing something with a bent wrist for a prolonged period like driving, reading a book, or holding your phone. At first, symptoms can come and go, but over time they may become more frequent and intense.


Numbness may contribute to weakness in the thumb’s pinching muscles, which are controlled by the median nerve. If the median nerve is compressed, the brain can’t properly communicate with the muscles in the hand which can cause dysfunction and weakness, affecting your ability to grip and pinch. You may begin to drop objects, have difficulty with dexterity like the buttons on your shirt, or be unable to make a fist.

Wrist Pain

When a nerve is compressed, like the median nerve with carpal tunnel, pain is a common symptom. That’s because pain is the signal that your body uses to alert you that something is wrong. Pain or discomfort is not usually the first symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome but happens with gradual onset. Typically, pain follows numbness and tingling and resolves itself with the numbness and tingling has been alleviated. Carpal tunnel pain may be isolated to that hand, but it can also radiate up the forearm, sometimes reaching the shoulder. Shaking the hand or bending and straightening the fingers repeatedly may provide short-term pain relief. Long-term carpal tunnel pain relief is possible by relieving the pressure placed on the median nerve and restoring communication between the brain and the body.

Desk Workers

Perhaps the most common population of patients who come to our office with carpal tunnel syndrome are people who work at a desk for a living. In this day and age, it is extremely common to be sitting at a desk working on the computer for upwards of 8-10 hours per day. The repetitive nature of this work tends to cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and fingers from using the keyboard and mouse with such consistency. Additionally, doing this work day after day, month after month, year after year can reinforce the problem and make it stubborn and chronic.

If you work at a desk and are experiencing symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, burning, or weakness in the hands, there are a few tips you can try to help alleviate some of the discomfort. First, if possible, take more work breaks. If you can take a short break every hour, it can alleviate the tension that builds up in the wrists and hands which makes symptoms worsen. It’s a good way to reset the hands and prepare for another productive spell of work. Second, do some gentle stretching both before and after work. This can help warm your forearm muscles up so they are more mobile and under less stress as you begin your daily work.

Meat and Fish Processing Workers

Another group that is highly susceptible to developing carpal tunnel syndrome is meat and fish processing workers. This type of work is highly repetitive for long hours and involves a lot of handwork that involves grip. Whenever this is the case, it is known that it will cause strain on those muscle tendons and can create irritation and inflammation, which can lead to issues developing within the carpal tunnel. This type of work also involves a lot of flexion of the wrist, which puts a lot of strain on the median nerve and muscle tendons passing through the carpal tunnel.

Like with desk workers, one tip that could be utilized, if allowed, would be to take more frequent work breaks. Short breaks to help the muscles and joints reset could lead to better productivity overall and less strain on the joints. Another tip would be to wear wrist braces during work, which would be protecting the wrist from flexing too far forward. Keeping the wrist in more of a neutral position can help spare the nerve from increased pressure and the ensuing carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms that follow.

People With Diabetes

Sometimes carpal tunnel syndrome can happen as the result of a medical condition, as opposed to stemming from the kind of work a person does for a living. One such medical condition that has been known to cause carpal tunnel syndrome is diabetes. This is primarily because diabetes increases fluid retention, which in turn can cause swelling in the hands and feet. Remember, there is only so much space within the carpal tunnel, so when inflammation and fluid are taking up that space, it can have a profound effect on the median nerve. Diabetes is also harmful to nerves and can lead to severe conditions such as peripheral neuropathy in the hands and feet if left uncorrected.

If you suffer from diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome, one thing that can be done to help reduce symptoms is supplement with Vitamin B6. This vitamin acts as a natural diuretic and can help release some of the excess fluid that is retained. In turn, this decreases the fluid pressure in the carpal tunnel being applied to the median nerve. Also, making lifestyle changes such as changing your diet or adding regular exercise to your daily routine can not only alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome but also improve your overall health and diabetic condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a chiropractor do anything about carpal tunnel syndrome?

Yes, the Chiropractors at the The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center have helped many people address the root cause of their carpal tunnel syndrome and eliminate their symptoms. The right combination of chiropractic, soft tissue work, and laser therapy can help restore normal function and correct this common and frustrating condition.

What helps carpal tunnel syndrome heal faster?

One of the ways we help treat carpal tunnel quickly is by utilizing deep tissue laser therapy. This treatment uses light energy to penetrate deep into the tissue, and it actually accelerates the healing process by clearing out inflammation and fostering tissue healing. In combination with other treatments, laser therapy is highly effective for getting quick results for our patients.

What happens if carpal tunnel syndrome goes untreated?

If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms will certainly get more intense and more frequent. As pressure continues to affect the median nerve, eventually over time it is possible to begin to lose function of that nerve. That is something that can take a very long time to recover from. It is essential to address your carpal tunnel problem as early as possible to ensure that you can recover as well as possible.

Is heat or ice better for carpal tunnel syndrome?

Ice. Utilizing heat will attract more inflammation and more fluid to the site, which could worsen your carpal tunnel symptoms. Using ice will help clear inflammation away from the site, which could decrease the pressure and alleviate the symptoms. Avoid using heat if you have carpal tunnel syndrome!

Can you heal carpal tunnel syndrome without surgery?

Yes! The The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center has several treatment modalities to help ensure you have a safe, natural recovery from this condition. Surgery is invasive and comes with risks. At a minimum, conservative measures should be taken first, as they are often just as effective at fixing the problem.

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Carpal Tunnel Treatment Springfield IL | (217) 726-0422