Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The Carpal Tunnel: The wrist bones (carpals) are joined in a curved arch which forms a cavity, the ligaments of the wrist place a roof on that cavity creating a tunnel – the carpal tunnel. Passing through the carpal tunnel are various tendons, ligaments, a vein, an artery and the median nerve. When this tunnel becomes compromised in either form or function it can cause compression on the median nerve resulting in numbness, tingling, weakness and/or pain which is indicative of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The conservative approach to the treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is to try and reduce irritation within the tunnel through the reestablishment of normal joint form and function. The surgical approach makes an attempt to alter the form, or the anatomy, of the structure, usually by thinning the ligaments.

One of the most common causes of CTS is an overuse or Repetitive Stress Injury. These injuries tend to arise from a light but highly repetitive task such as keyboarding. These types of movements tend to use the muscles on one side of the joint at the expense of the opposing muscles, creating instability. In general, CTS responds well to rehab and, as for all health problems, all reasonable, conservative therapies should be tried before surgery.

Very frequently, both elbow and wrist problems are the result of shoulder dysfunction. Stand in front of a full-length mirror, relax, let your shoulders, arms and hands drop into their natural position, now look at your thumbs. Stick them straight out. Do they point across your body, or straight ahead? If one or both point across your body you have a very high probability of having shoulder dysfunction.

How can a shoulder problem cause elbow or wrist problems? Good question, thanks for asking. Any joint. along with it’s muscles, is strongest in the centre of it’s range of motion. From the exercise above we can see that as the shoulder rolls forward, the arm and hand roll in. This means that in order to do most work we now have to rotate the elbow and wrist outward to near full rotation, which is very nearly it’s weakest point. So, as we do work with the joint being compromised, we greatly increase the risk of breakdown or sprain-strain type of injuries. This should explain why, in order to effect good long term results with wrist and elbow problems, we must also rehab the shoulders.

If you have more questions regarding your specific problem call our office at (780) 963-4608 to set up a consultation with Dr. McLeod.
This information represents only a brief summary of the conditions discussed and is presented as a public service by the Immanuel Healing Centre. For this or any other health problems about which you have concerns please consult personally with a health care professional.