Just in North America alone, over 260,000 Carpal Tunnel Release operations are performed each year, and over 47% of these cases are reported as being work-related!
The costs due to CTS are substantial – both for the patient and for the employer.
When does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occur?
The increased use of computers, and their accompanying flat, light-touch keyboards that allow for high-speed typing, have resulted in an epidemic of injuries to the hands, arms, shoulders, and neck. The increased use of pointing devices like the computer mouse and trackball (which require repeated subtle movements) add to these injuries.
The thousands of repeated keystrokes and long periods of clutching and dragging with the mouse causes chronic irritation to soft-tissue (nerves, muscles, ligaments, fascia, and tendons). This irritation creates friction and pressure, which eventually leads to small tears within the soft-tissue. These in turn cause inflammation, decreased circulation, and swelling (edema).
CTS injuries are aggravated by:
Poor posture and body positions.
Poor ergonomics (positioning of the chair, mouse, monitor, keyboard, assembly line, and so on).
Decreased strength due to poor conditioning or injury.
Insufficient relaxation/rest time away from the stresses that cause the problem.
Excessive force that is required to perform an action.
All these factors place unnecessary, repeated stress upon all the soft-tissues of the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The classical medical definition of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) says:
‘The impairment of motor and/or sensory function of the Median Nerve as it traverses through
the Carpal Tunnel.’
Research is now showing that this traditional emphasis upon the Carpal Tunnel area is not only inaccurate, but that it also ignores the bigger picture, where the Median Nerve is often entrapped along other areas from the wrist to the neck, rather than at just the carpal tunnel.
So, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can occur anytime the median nerve is entrapped or restricted anywhere along its entire length along your arm.
Other nerve entrapment sites:
CTS is often caused by entrapment of the Median Nerve at several other common entrapment sites:
Median Nerve at the Thenar Muscles.
Median Nerve at the Carpal Tunnel.
Median nerve at the Pronator Teres and Flexor Digitorum Superficialis.
Median Nerve at the Ligament of Struthers.
Median Tract at the Coracopectoral Tunnel.
Median Nerve at the Scalenes.
Although these are common entrapment sites, it is important to note that the entrapment of the Median Nerve can occur anywhere along the length of the nerve.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It therefore becomes critical that treatment methods can identify and release entrapments along the entire length of the Median Nerve. This requires a great amount of tactile sensitivity from the practitioner.
To be successful at treating CTS, the practitioner must do several things, including:
Locate the restrictive adhesions that have formed, as well as the direction in which these adhesions are aligned.
Identify both the primary, and the antagonistic, muscles that are causing the injury.
Determine which other soft-tissue structures along the kinetic chain are affected by these adhesions.
Use a hands-on approach, such as Active Release Techniques, to release the restrictions that are the cause of the problem.
Active Release Technique (ART) is a hands-on touch and case-management system that allows the practitioner to diagnose and treat soft-tissue injuries, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
By using ART, our doctors can release the restrictive adhesions blocking the carpal tunnel, and other restricted sites along the Median nerve. Our dynamic, integrated program restores function to the Median nerve, decreases swelling, releases restrictions, and rehabilitates your hand, wrist, and arm to its normal function and strength.
What can you do to help yourself?
There are many things you can do to help yourself prevent CTS.
For example, you can change the ergonomics of your workstation, as shown in this video, or you can perform some regular and simple exercises as shown in the following two sections.
So be proactive… and help yourself!
During the early stages of nerve entrapment, some simple exercises can often help you to release the nerve, and thereby prevent the occurrence of CTS.
Exercise is Essential
We believe that effective, focused exercises play an important role in the healing and regeneration of damaged tissues. Every patient at our clinic receives appropriate exercises. Our exercise programs are based on four basic principles:
See Kinetic Health’s Shoulder and Arm Exercise Videos for a sample of some the exercises we prescribe to our Carpal Tunnel patients.