Because the early symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can be mild and tolerable, many patients put off seeing a doctor until the pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in their wrist and hand is no longer bearable. The current research supports chiropractic care as an excellent non-surgical option for new-onset CTS, but what about patients with chronic CTS?
In a case series study of 18 women with chronic CTS (defined as CTS lasting more than six months), researchers looked at the potential benefits of soft tissue mobilization combined with nerve slider neurodynamic technique on pain and pressure sensitivity at various points along the course of the median nerve from the cervical spine into the hand before, immediately after, and one week following just a single treatment.
The treatment session consisted of a 30-minutes of soft tissue techniques (including soft tissue mobilization, nerve slider neuromobilization, myofascial release, stretching, and cross-fiber friction over the muscular interfaces through which the median nerve travels) at four locations: the front/side of the neck (anterior scalene muscles), the distal to middle anterior upper arm (biceps brachii), the proximal palm-side forearm (pronator teres), and stretching the transverse carpal ligament and soft tissues on the palm-side of the hand. The patients reported a reduction in pain following treatment that persisted for up to one week following just one treatment.
Another study looked at the long-term effects from manual therapies on patients with chronic CTS. In this study, patients received two treatments a week for three weeks. Not only did the patients report improvement in their CTS symptoms following the conclusion of care, but these benefits persisted when researchers followed-up with participants six months later.
Manual therapies are a primary treatment approach utilized by chiropractors for both acute and chronic CTS, along with many standard management strategies such as night splints, physical modalities, and specific home-based exercise recommendations. This multi-modal approach places chiropractic at the top of the list as the ideal choice for the CTS patient!