Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that happens when stress on median nerve passes through the wrist creating symptoms such as weakness, tingling or numbness. Surgery usually isn’t required initially, unless there is some cause for emergency action as a result of, for example, a broken wrist. In the main, Osteopaths will recommend perusing all non-surgical practises before consulting a surgeon.
So what happens when you contact an Osteopath for CTS?
First we will qualify existing symptoms and health history. The information you proved enables us to understand more about the intensity and frequency of your symptoms. Understanding a patients history we can understand better elements that are known to contribute to an increased risk for CTS. These elements could be such as hypothyroid, pregnancy, the pill and diabetes.
Next the Osteopath will carry out a thorough inspection, most prominently of the median nerve. The median nerve comes from the spinal cord in the neck as nerve roots meander down through the shoulder, beyond the elbow through to the wrist. If at any point along this journey the nerve is compressed, a patient could possibly feel CTS-like symptoms, so it’s paramount to locate whereabouts the nerve is “pinched” in order to ensure the best possible outcome for treatment.
It can be a very complex issue as the median nerve can be compressed at several points. This can be referred to as a double or multiple crush syndrome. Furthermore, the median nerve isn’t solely the nerve that creates this sensation to the hand. When entrapped, the ulnar and radial nerves can also result in these symptoms in the hand and can be mistaken for CTS by the Osteopath because it’s the most commonly known peripheral neuropathy.
Once all the possibly contributing factors are ruled out and a patients hand and wrist symptoms are identified, the Osteopath will advise a course of treatment that may include manipulation, mobilization, therapeutic exercises, modalities, wrist splinting, and even dietary recommendations, depending on the patient’s unique situation. Sometimes anti inflammatory foods can help. The overriding aim is to reduce pressure on the median nerve by restoring normal motion in the affected joints, as well as in reducing inflammation that may be a result of a variety of causes.
While patients with more extreme cases of CTS can be aided from non-surgical approaches, like Osteopathic care, it’s important to be mindful that it may take longer for such patients to experience improvements in pain and disability, and Osteopaths may not be able to completely reverse the disease if it is too advanced. The sooner a patient seeks care, the better their chance for achieving a desired outcome.