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Do I Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

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Chiropractic Care and Musculoskeletal Pain

Many musculoskeletal problems, including symptoms masquerading as carpal tunnel syndrome, are effectively managed by chiropractic care. The key, as always, lies in accurate evaluation of the cause of the patient's pain patterns.

To a very large extent, physical pain involving the spine, arms, and legs is related to mechanical joint dysfunction. There are exceptions, of course, including pain caused by a severe acute injury or an inflammatory condition such as ankylosing spondylitis. But in most cases, chiropractic care will provide a solution to a person's musculoskeletal pain, resulting in a reduction or even a resolution of the problem.

It's important to remember that most painful symptoms don't just happen on their own. Your chiropractor will do more than address the problem at hand. He or she may also help you design an effective exercise program and a healthful nutrition plan to optimize your health and well-being over the long-term.

Many people believe they have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The majority have been told by their medical doctor that they have CTS. Others have mistakenly concluded that because they have some numbness and tingling in their wrist or hand, they must have this neurological disorder. Still others have ongoing forearm, wrist, or hand pain (possibly localized to the thumb and/or index finger), and are led by articles they've read on the Internet to diagnose themselves with CTS. Almost all of this is in error.1,2

Why are so many diagnoses of this condition mistaken? The primary culprit is lazy clinical decision-making, compounded by a failure to understand correctly the workings of the musculoskeletal system. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a specific diagnosis which involves mechanical pressure on the median nerve as it passes through a small tunnel in the wrist created by tiny adjoining bones. There's not much room in this carpal tunnel and its dimensions can be narrowed further by inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnancy can lead to CTS owing to increased fluid retention. Repetitive stress may lead to inflammation of tendons that cross the wrist. Such inflammation may lead to soft tissue swelling which compresses the carpal tunnel, causing CTS. Various other disorders should also be considered when CTS is suspected.

Importantly, CTS is not a catchall diagnosis to be used when a person has forearm, wrist, and/or hand pain. If a person really has CTS, he or she will have specific symptoms. The person will awaken at night owing to pain and/or numbness and tingling. Symptoms will be precisely located to the thumb and index finger (possibly involving the middle finger). Wrist pain may or may not be present. Also, the person will demonstrate a weakness of pinch grip involving the thumb and index finger. If these signs and symptoms are not present, the person does not have carpal tunnel syndrome. Usually, the diagnosis is clearcut and does not require special tests such as electromyography.

Remarkably, most physicians, regardless of specialty, are unaware of these important criteria. If the patient has pain and/or numbness in the hand, the patient has CTS. Case closed. This lack of sophistication leads to real harm done to the patient, such as unnecessary tests which waste time, cost a lot of money, and may result in damaging surgery which is not curative as it was directed at a problem that really wasn't there.

In marked contrast, chiropractors are highly trained in accurate analysis of musculoskeletal problems involving the shoulder, arm, and hand.3 When patients have symptoms mimicking those of carpal tunnel syndrome, chiropractors use their broad knowledge and experience to correctly evaluate the situation. For example, spinal dysfunction, muscle spasm, and trigger points can all cause symptoms which appear to be those of CTS. Chiropractors are able to see through this masquerade and effectively address the real underlying problems.

1Ibrahim I, et al: Carpal tunnel syndrome. Review of the recent literature. Open Orthop J 6:69-75, 2012
2Uchiyama S, et al: Current concepts of carpal tunnel syndrome: pathophysiology, treatment, and evaluation. J Orthop Sci 15(1):1-13, 2010
3Bialosky JE, et al: Heightened pain sensitivity in individuals with signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and the relationship to clinical outcomes following a manual therapy intervention. Man Ther 16(6):602-608, 2011

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We value our patients' experience at Stamford Sports & Spine. If you are currently a patient, please feel free to complete the following Client Experience Questionnaire. The Questionnaire is in Adobe Acrobat format, and requires the free Acrobat Reader to view.

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Dr. Andrew Zomick & Dr. David Avallon

I have been coming to Stamford Sports and Spine for almost 10 years. I am active and have unfortunately been in a few car accidents. The care and treatment offered at Stamford Sports and Spine is world class and without them I would be living with an inordinate amount of pain and discomfort. Going to Stamford Sports and Spine has made my injuries manageable.

--James


Very good team of therapists. Flexible and available schedule. They helped get my teenage athletes back on the field in half the time.

--Shawn


I was experiencing some pain in my right shoulder and numbness down my arm to my hand. The range of motion in my shoulder was limited and I could not participate in volleyball. Dr. Z came to our office offering a free chair massage and a chance to come in for an evaluation. I did this and we worked out a treatment plan that included therapy and adjustments. I noticed in the first few weeks the pain subsided greatly in my shoulder. The numbness in the arm and hand were present but noticeably better. After three weeks, the range of motion in my shoulder was back to normal and the pain was gone. Now after one month of therapy the numbness in the arm is extremely better and I do not notice the symptoms as often as I used to. Coming into the office has helped tremendously. I can now play volleyball pain-free.

--Mary


After moving from London to the USA, two weeks into living in Stamford and having carried and unpacked a lot of heavy boxes my shoulder froze and I was in a great deal of constant pain. After finding Stamford Sports & Spine on the internet I made an appointment and the corrective programme S.S.S. put together for me meant that I immediately had some pain relief, and over the next few weeks the pain left completely. The programme is also ensuring that I am not only pain free but fully corrected so as this problem should not occur again. Very friendly staff and very detailed assessment programme that has ensured my full recovery.

--Laura


From my first visit to Stamford Sports & Spine I was extremely impressed and pleased with their service. Everyone including staff and doctors were very knowledgeable with their chiropractic services. I learned a great deal about my symptoms and overall care more than I expected. I have visited a few other chiropractors but none were as thorough as Stamford Sports & Spine. I was experiencing severe pain in my shoulder and arm and after a few visits my pain decreased substantially. I really appreciate all the services from the adjustments, rollers and even exercise room. I would highly recommend this facility to everyone. The entire staff are friendly, professional and just simply great!

--Sherri


Everyone was incredibly professional and helpful.  The staff is friendly and goes beyond what was expected to meet my needs and education me about my condition.

--Jon


Came in with severe and constant numbness and tingling in my legs and feet. The treatment worked quickly and resolved all of my symptoms. Thanks!

--Erik


My arms were falling asleep every night and had numbness and tingling during the day. I no longer have any of those symptoms during the day and have very rare episodes of pain at night due to my treatment here at Stamford Sports & Spine

--Eric


I came in for hip pain and stiff neck that also affected my right arm and hand. Using the relaxing rolling / traction bed and electrical muscle stimulation along with stretching and the adjustments my hip pain is gone. I can walk without sharp pains running up and down my legs. My neck range of motion has improved and my muscles are more flexible and less spastic.

--Karen


I had severe neck pain which was aggravated by a recent move. I have been coming to be adjusted for a few weeks now and not only has it helped with the neck pain I had been experiencing, but it has also made me feel better overall. I feel like I am able to sit up straighter, and my muscles are looser and less tense. I no longer have the intense pain I had once been experiencing

--Kim


When I came in my pain was a 10 out of 10. After just one week of care my pain went down to a 4 and has been improving ever since. The staff are very friendly and great educators. I learned a lot about my body and how to take better care of myself.

--Heidi


After a car accident,  I had to seek help for my upper back and neck pain. Slowly but surely I started to feel better, not immediately, but by keeping up with my visits with Dr. Q & Dr. Z. Now I can tell you that I feel leaps and bounds better, and am now looking forward to a pain-free summer.

--Rudy


I have been with Stamford Sports & Spine for more than a year now. I still remember how much pain I was in during my first session. I can now walk in and out without any aches or pains.

--Rick


When I first started going to Stamford Sports & Spine, my back had been seizing up with alarming regularity. After just a few months of working with Dr. Z and Dr. Q, I feel much more confident in my daily activities and have even been able to return to the gym.

--Dan


Thank you to Dr. Z, Dr. Q and the whole Stamford Sports & Spine team! For many years, I have been suffering from severe back pain that would sometimes keep me from going to work. The recurring pain would come and go and I couldn't figure out what I was doing to cause it. When I came to the office, Dr. Z took x-rays, did a complete examination and educated me as to what was happening and why. I began treatment and was given exercises to prevent these injuries from happening in the future. Since starting the treatment, I have seen a great improvement in my back. The pain is gone and I have an increased range of motion. Thanks again to the entire staff who are very friendly and always willing to accommodate my hectic schedule when I make appointments.

--Ron


The strabismus in my eyes caused a vertical deviation in my eye placement.  This resulted in my head naturally tilting to the right and throwing my muscular structure in my neck and shoulders off.  I had accepted the tilt and tightness as a way of life and a natural dis-figuration of my spine.  I almost didn't sign on for initial treatment.  After 3 visits I have already noticed a difference in the position of my head, my posture and regular comfort levels.  There is still a ways to go to rid that area of  a lifetime of dysfunction, but what a relief to know it's treatable and already improving.

-Jenn


I found Dr. Z and Dr. Q earlier in the week after experiencing some back pain and sciatica. After the consultation and x-rays I began therapy. After just 2 treatments I felt much better and had a significant reduction in discomfort in the area of concern. I am looking forward to continuing my treatment in an effort for long term recovery and a return to my heavy exercise routine.

--Tom


FANTASTIC. When I leave I feel like a whole new woman. I have been going there for my neck pain and headaches for about 1 year now; off and on and ever since I started treatment there my headaches have been reduced to one every few months instead of a few every month. The intensity of of my pain has also been reduced to almost nothing. The doctors seem to have a very friendly relationship with all of the patients and I feel very welcomed by the staff as well. Not to mention I love how they incorporate therapeutic massages into my treatment. I have since sent over many of my colleagues and family, who also share the same feelings. Thank you.

--Bri


I had a great experience. My low back pain is completely gone. I found the staff extremely knowledgeable, accommodating and friendly. I would highly recommend them.

--Jay F.

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