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What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel of the wrist. This tunnel or passageway allows tendons, blood vessels and nerves to pass from the forearm to the hand.

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The median nerve can become compressed within the tunnel for various reasons such as a wrist fracture or dislocation, chronic shoulder pain shooting down toward the arms and hands, fluid retention, and other inflammatory conditions. Other things that may contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome are working with vibrating tools, prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist, and even typing on computer keyboard or using a computer mouse.

Excess inflammation around the carpal tunnel causes a build-up of pressure inside the tunnel, which in turn will cause a blockage of blood flow and nerve signalling from the forearm to the hand. Decreased blood flow results in the sensation of  numbness, tingling, weakness and even swelling.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel such as numbness, tingling, pain, burning, and weakness in the arms and hands often, but not always, result from inflammation due to frequent, repetitive physical movements.

There are a number of things that can cause or put you at risk for developing CTS. These include:

  • Genetic predisposition: Small bones or a small carpal canal increases the risk.
  • Hormonal changes: For women, hormonal fluctuations increase the chances of the syndrome; pregnancy and menopause can be particularly problematic.
  • Diseases: Conditions like arthritis, lupus, diabetes and obesity can lead to narrowing of the canal.
  • Repetitive motions: Excessively doing activities like typing, using hand tools, gardening, golfing, sewing and massaging can repeatedly strain the area, causing localized inflammation and trauma.

The onset of symptoms may start gradually and become worse over time, especially if the same motions are repeated on a near daily basis. Even though some repetitive motions such as typing on the computer or using the phone are not strenuous activities in and of themselves, if performed often enough, the cumulative effect builds up. If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to what is known as nocturnal awakenings, which refers to waking up in the middle of the night from pain and discomfort.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist made up of ligaments and bones. The median nerve and the tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the forearm pass through this tightly spaced tunnel.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as median nerve entrapment, occurs when swelling or irritation of the nerve or tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve.  The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers. The symptoms often first appear during the night.  As symptoms worsen, people might feel pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks.  If not properly treated, CTS can cause irreversible nerve damage and permanent deterioration of muscle tissue.

Sciatica and Acupuncture

Do You Suffer From Sciatica? Try Acupuncture first before anything else!

We are proud to report that  at Allendale Acupuncture has close to a 100% success rate in relieving sciatica pain. Most patients experience a significant decrease of the amount of pain after the first visit. Typically, it requires 5-7 visits to achieve a long-lasting relief.

If you feel pain in your lower back or hip that radiates to the back of your thigh and into your leg, (and sometimes to your foot,) you may have “sciatica.”

sciatica

Sciatica may feel like a bad leg cramp or sharp knife-like pain at times. Pain gets worse when you move, sneeze, or cough. You may also experience weakness, “pins and needles” numbness, or a burning or tingling sensation down your leg.

The pain can range from slightly annoying to totally unbearable. Some people have pain in one part of the leg and numbness in another part of the same leg. In rare cases, you may have numbness or tingling in your groin or genital area and lose control of your bladder or bowel.

Sciatica is most commonly caused by a herniated disk. The gel-like center (nucleus) of a disk may protrude into or through the disk’s outer lining. This herniated disk may press directly on the nerve roots that become the sciatic nerve. Nerve roots may also get inflamed and irritated by chemicals from the disk’s nucleus.

sciatica

If you are one of those “unlucky” folks with sciatica, what are your options?

You may visit an orthopedist that is likely to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants. If that doesn’t work, your doctor may inject your spinal area with a cortisone-like drug. The next stop is surgery to remove herniated disk to stop it from pressing your sciatic nerve.

It may come as a surprise to some, but try acupuncture first, if you experience sciatica. In fact, lower back pain and sciatica are two most common causes people knock on the door of the acupuncturist!

Acupuncture can help relieve pain, relax tight muscles, and help your body to heal itself without drugs or expensive and potentially risky surgery. In some cases we may recommend an MRI just to rule out anything serious (badly herniated disc, tumors, etc.), but for many patients acupuncture is all they need.

In our clinic, we open up a patient’s entire body first, before we tackle the specific sciatic nerve inflammation. Sometimes, just inserting a needle in the back of the head relieves the sciatica pain totally. Since most patients with sciatica have “imbalance” in their bladder and gallbladder meridians, we focus on treating the bladder and gallbladder pathways.