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Taking Aim at Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Repetition may be great for learning, even improving physical skills and talents, but it is also the cause of “slowly destructive little things,” in the words of French philosopher Ernest Dimnet. For many sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome, there is nothing little about this condition, which has become a major disability in the American workforce and rates as the greatest villain among ergonomic marauders among those who spend hours manipulating keyboards in office and home settings. Ergonomics is about equipment design in our workplaces, including how we sit and the stress on our hands, wrists and arms performing the most common office activity, typing on a keyboard.

 

There are many potential causes of hand and wrist pain including conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), not excluding arthritis or tendinitis. Then there are traumatic injuries such as fractures, sprains, and strains. At Montvale Health, it starts with diagnosing the problem with a thorough examination—imaging technology if necessary —before we advance to the treatment options.

CTS is as common for people working in their offices and from their homes as injured elbows are to major league pitchers. That’s because the major cause of CTS is overuse of the wrist, mostly from working hours every day on a computer. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist—a conduit for nerves and tendons— that is vulnerable to inflammation and compression by overuse. The result is pain and numbness. It is one of the most common surgeries performed, and much of it can be blamed on technology. More than 230,000 of these procedures are performed annually, according to National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH).

Disability Strikes “in Epidemic Proportions”

CTS becomes a major disabler, “disabling workers in epidemic proportions,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Almost a fourth of those undergoing the surgery are unable to return to their previous jobs or that kind of work.

It is all about repetitive motion for hours every day, and it affects more females than males.

There is treatment available at Montvale Health to relieve the pain and swelling caused by CTS, namely “conservative treatment options including physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage therapy.”

Due to this explosion of computer-age injuries that are ergonomically based, studies for treating CTS are hopeful in curbing this disability, and it seems that noninvasive physical therapy is at least as effective as surgery. The optimism is high that new procedures in the physical therapy community will mean making a bigger impact in reducing this disability and the return of an increasing number to their former professions.,

The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy reports that for those diagnosed with CTS “physical therapy offers strong evidence-based treatment options to help you recover. Evidence indicates that physical therapy is as effective as surgery to treat this condition.”

There is also good news from researchers about the potential impact of chiropractic care on CTS. A study focusing on two different chiropractic protocols showed effectiveness in the following improvements:  wrist motion and strength, “daily activity function” of the wrist, as well as nerve conduction or functionality.  Patient satisfaction of those tested rated high compared to satisfaction after surgery.

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