Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a very common condition caused by inflammation of the median nerve that runs through the palm side of the wrist. When the median nerve is pinched and irritated, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness in the hand can result.
Wrist splinting is a common recommendation given to CTS patients by all healthcare providers, including chiropractors, based on the theory that pressure increases dramatically inside the tunnel at the extremes of wrist bending, so restricting motion may allow the associated soft tissues to become less inflamed. But, does splinting actually work?
One study that included 36 participants looked at the outcomes of night-time splinting only, using a common thermoplastic neutral wrist splint. The researchers observed that the patients in the study reported improvements related to their hand/wrist symptoms at the three-month point, while after six months, the participants had also experienced improvements related to wrist function.
To determine if all splints and braces for CTS were the same or if some were better than others, a 2018 study compared the efficacy of a neutral wrist splint vs. one the incorporated a “lumbrical unit” that extended further into the hand. After six weeks, patients in both groups reported improvements related to pinch and grip strength, but the patients given the longer splint also experience statistically significant improvements related to pain and function.
What about combining nerve and tendon stretching exercises WITH wrist splinting? One study that included 51 mild-moderate CTS patients found that those who performed nerve/tendon gliding exercises (three times a day for four weeks) reported better outcomes regardless of which splint they used. A similar study found that patients who engaged in a home stretching program and who wore the longer splint were less likely to require surgical intervention.
These studies support the use of the longer splint and stretching exercises in the management of CTS. When treating patients with CTS, doctors of chiropractic typically take a multimodal approach that includes wrist splinting, specific exercises/stretches, and manual therapies in order to reduce pain and improve function in the wrist and surrounding tissues.
So, if you are experiencing wrist pain, numbness, hand weakness, and carpal tunnel symptoms and you type in pain management near me, you may find Coast Chiropractic Centers with Dr. Timothy Harcourt, me, comes up.
You may wonder, “Do I need an MRI scan of my neck or wrist.”?
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
You may have a “funny feeling like a numbness frequently called paresthesia. Even a handshake may be painful or weak. Some people have prescribed chemicals that may temporarily reduce the numbness but not fixing the problem. The numbing in the fingers can be annoying and even debilitating.
Also, if you feel arm pain it may indicate things are getting worse and may indicate a bulge on the disc or worse yet a herniated disc in your neck. Persistent or worsening pain intensity and/or frequency necessitates a visit to see a professional.
Call me, Dr. Tim Harcourt, at (239) 278-3344 and mention this article for an awesome discounted first visit to include history, exam, and adjustment or Class IV high-intensity laser treatment.
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