Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Light at the End of the Tunnel
Siobhan sighed. Another monotonous Monday at the plastic tube factory in Navan. Well, at least having a laugh and a joke with the girls would break the boredom. And might take her mind off that annoying tingling in her fingers… But by the time her shift was over, her hand felt so sore and weak she couldn’t open the factory gate.
Carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome are the two most common ‘trapped nerve’ scenarios. In the first, your median nerve is compressed in the space between your wrist bones and a ligament, the flexor retinaculum. The cubital tunnel, on the other hand, is in your elbow, formed by soft tissues and the bottom of your upper arm bone. Anything that narrows that space – including excessive elbow bending – can compress your ulnar nerve.
Both syndromes can cause pain, numbness, tingling, ‘pins-and needles’, and muscle weakness, but the location varies, as the two nerves control different areas. Both can affect the hand and arm, but problems in the thumb, index and middle fingers are more likely to be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, whereas elbow pain and symptoms in your little and ring fingers put more odds on your cubital tunnel.
If, like Siobhan, your job involves repetitive actions, or you use vibrating tools, you’re potentially at risk. Diabetics, those with arthritis or who have injured their wrist/elbow in the past are also commonly affected. And women during pregnancy or menopause are frequent victims, possibly due to fluid retention narrowing the tunnels. In the worst scenarios, you may not be able to use your hand. Muscle wasting or finger “clawing” may set in, and surgery will be required.
Night-worn splints, cold packs and medication may help milder cases. But did you know that a recent study using ultra-modern brain scanning found that acupuncture can actually modify the way the brain responds to carpal tunnel syndrome, reducing the symptoms?
We offer acupuncture right here at Pain Remedial Clinic in Meath. So what are you waiting for?