Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Can Upper Cervical Care Help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a debilitating disorder caused by irritation to the median nerve in the hand. The median nerve actually originates in the neck, runs down past the shoulder, around the elbow and into the wrist. Specifically, it supplies sensation and movement for the thumb, index and middle fingers.

CTS is described as burning pain (worst at night) with numbness and tingling. In more severe cases, muscle wasting is also present, which makes it difficult for people to hold objects or do fine-motor movements (such as typing on a keyboard).


Medical Treatments

The standard medical treatments for CTS include prescription drugs, wrist splints or surgery. Unfortunately, drugs have potential side effects, and surgery is not always successful. A study in the Journal of Hand Surgery showed that wrist splints and medications failed 82.6% of the time. Another study showed that surgery actually failed 57% of the time.

These astonishing statistics indicate that many people diagnosed with CTS do not actually have true Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Instead, they suggest that people may have other problems such as Double Crush Syndrome.

Double Crush Syndrome vs Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Remember that the medical nerve actually originates from the neck. What this means is that any irritation to the nerve along its length – anywhere from the neck to the hand – can cause hand pain. Moreover, there is also more than one part of the nerve being affected. What this means is that you can address one part of the problem at the hand, but until you address the other part, there will be no change in symptoms.

This is what is called “Double Crush Syndrome” – because it takes two sites to injure the nerve … and it requires that both sides be addressed to relieve the symptoms of  carpal tunnel syndrome. A similar phenomenon also occurs with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which is a clamping down on the blood vessels that run from the heart to the arms.

Pressure or irritation to the nerve roots as they exit the neck makes the median nerve more vulnerable to injury at the wrist. A growing number of studies suggest that the Double Crush phenomenon is one of the most common causes on CTS.

The Lancet (medical journal) published that 7/10 CTS patients had nerve irritation in the neck. This may explain the high rate of failure of the routine medical treatments that target the wrist only but neglect to address problems with the neck.


Carpal Tunnel & The Cervical Spine

One of the most common problems with the neck is a misaligned vertebra, which is called “a subluxation.” Specifically if you have a subluxation affecting the C1 or C2, the top vertebrae in your neck, they create tension on your spinal cord itself. This tension can pull on the lower nerve roots – including the median nerve – as they exit the neck and pass to the hand.

This is the focus of Upper Cervical doctors: to detect and correct these types of subluxations in order to correct abnormal tension to the spine, thus allowing the body to work properly.

If you are experiencing numbness or tingling in your hands – especially if you have been recommended surgery – you may want to consider consulting with an Upper Cervical doctor for a second opinion.