Research suggests that approximately three percent of women and two percent of men will suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome during their adult lifetimes, which represents about nine million people. The syndrome is most prevalent in women older than 55.
Symptoms of the condition include numbness, muscle weakness, pain, achy discomfort, and decreased ranges of motion in the wrist or hand. There are two primary causes for carpal tunnel. The first is repetition; usually this is tied to a person’s career or hobbies. Waitresses are prone to carpal tunnel as are bowlers because carrying trays and holding and throwing a bowling ball can cause micro-trauma to the wrist by the continual stress placed on the wrist. Other activities that can bring on the condition is computer mouse use, playing the guitar, lifting weights, and various manual labor jobs.
The second cause is damage to the nerves exiting the spine at the base of the neck. If the bones in that area are misaligned it can make the nerves dysfunctional, which can affect the shoulder, arm, and hand including the wrist’s muscles and ligaments. Whiplash can cause such neck trauma as can a fall or other sports injury, such as a tackle in football.
When the culprit is repetitive micro-trauma, one or more wrist bones can end up misaligned. The wrist has a normal arch designed to protect the nerves and ligaments that control your hand. If the wrist bones are flattened for an extended length of time, the wrist becomes stressed prompting the arch to drop creating pressure on the nerves and ligaments that run through the arch. The result is carpel tunnel syndrome.
If the nerves are compressed, the typical symptoms are pain and numbness. If the ligaments are compressed the symptoms will likely be pain, weakness, and diminished range of motion. In most people, both the ligaments and nerves are compressed. Realigning the wrist bones, combined with exercise and a reduction in the physical repetition stress that caused the problem is a standard course of treatment.
When damage at the base of the neck causes the problem, the misaligned bones and the neck curve need to be corrected to end the neural interference. Nerve interference at the base of the neck takes longer to fix but it’s needed to correct the carpal tunnel syndrome.
The bottom line is, if treatment only focuses on the wrist in this case and the neck is ignored any alleviation of pain may be temporary and the syndrome may recur sooner rather than later. For full recover the wrist must be treated in conjunction with the neck. That’s why people have undergone wrist surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome and see no significant improvement nerve interference at the base of the neck is preventing the body from healing itself.