We have been providing treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome in San Francisco for over 20 years.
Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition characterized by pain, numbness and/or
tingling in the hand. This includes the palm and the 2nd, 3rd, and half of the
4th finger, usually sparing the thumb. Another indication of CTS is weakness in
grip strength such as difficulty opening a jar to even holding a coffee cup.
CTS can occur from many different causes, the most common being repetitive
motion injuries such as assembly line or typing/computing work. Here is a
PARTIAL list of potential causes of CTS: heredity (a small sized tunnel), aging
(>50 years old), rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, hypothyroid, birth control
pill use, trauma to the wrist (especially colles fractures), diabetes mellitus,
acromegaly, the use of corticosteroids, tumors (benign or malignant), obesity
(BMI>29 are 2.5 more likely), double crush (pinching of the nerve in more
than 1 place such as the neck and the carpal tunnel), heterozygous mutations in
a gene (associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth), Parvovirus b19, and others.
Again, repetitive trauma is still the most common cause. It becomes quite clear
that a COMPLETE physical examination must be conducted, not just evaluation of
the wrist! Once the cause(s) of CTS has been nailed down, then treatment
options can be considered.
From a treatment perspective, we’ve
previously discussed what chiropractors typically do for CTS (spinal and
extremity joint manipulation, muscle/soft tissue mobilization, physical therapy
modalities such as deep tissue laser, the use of a wrist splint – especially at night, work
task modifications, wrist/hand/arm/neck exercises, vitamin B6, and more). But,
what about using other “alternative” or non-medical approaches, especially
those that can be done with chiropractic treatment? Here is a list of four
alternative or complementary treatment options:
- Anti-inflammatory Goals: Reducing systemic inflammation reduces overall
pressure on the median nerve that travels through the limited space within
the carpal tunnel at the wrist. An “anti-inflammatory diet” such a
Mediterranean diet, gluten-free diet, paleo-diet (also referred to as the
caveman diet) can also help. Herbs that can helps include arnica,
bromelain, white willow bark, curcumen, ginger, turmeric, boswellia, and
vitamins such as bioflavinoids, Vitamin B6 (and other B vitamins such as
B1 and B12), vitamin C, and also omega 3 fatty acids.
- Acupuncture: Inserting very thin needles into specific acupuncture points both
near the wrist and further away can unblock energy channels (called
meridians), improve energy flow, release natural pain reducing chemicals
(endorphins and enkephlins), promote circulation and balance the nervous
system. For CTS, the acupuncture points are located on the wrist, arm,
thumb, hand, neck, upper back and leg. The number of sessions varies,
dependant on how long the CTS has been present, the person’s overall
health, and the severity of CTS.
- Laser acupuncture: The use of a low level (or “cold” laser) or a
class IV pulsed laser over the same acupuncture points as mentioned above
can have very similar beneficial effects (without needles)! One particular
study of 36 subjects with CTS for an average of 24 months included 14
patients who had 1-2 prior surgeries for CTS with poor post-surgical
results. Even in that group, improvement was reported after 3 laser
treatments per week for 4-5 weeks! In total, 33 of the 36 subjects
reported 50-100% relief. These benefits were reportedly long-term as
follow-up at 1-2 years later showed only 2 out of 23 subjects had pain
that returned and subsequent laser treatment was again successful within
- Acupressure: Acupuncture point stimulation with manual pressure. These points
can be self-stimulated by the CTS sufferer multiple times a day via deep
We realize you have a choice in who
you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your
trust in choosing our service for those needs.
If you, a friend or family member require care for CTS, we would be
honored to render our services.
To schedule an appointment with one of our carpal tunnel doctors in San Francisco call 415-392-2225. Mention this blog post for a complimentary CTS consultation and trial laser session.