Carpal Tunnel and Its Diagnosis


Pain in the wrist and hand can be a difficult thing to properly diagnose. The first problem is deciding what type of doctor to see. A chiropractor, internist, orthopedist, rheumatologist, or neurologist, will all agree to schedule you for an appointment, but which is best?


At your visit, it’s important to have a thorough examination and to ask a lot of questions. Be skeptical if the doctor only examines the wrist and hand, and leaves out the elbow, shoulder, and neck because not all wrist pains are a problem with constriction at the carpal tunnel. Problems of the neck and other joints distal to the pain can refer pain into the wrist and hand. Pain in the hands can also come from compression of nerves in the neck. Your carpal tunnel pain needs to be separated from a problem in the neck, such as a radiculopathy or thoracic outlet syndrome.


Your doctor should ask are how long the problem has lasted, and if there has been any trauma. Trauma to the neck is especially important as it could be a sign that your wrist problem is really a neck injury.


For some patients, losing weight and doing specific exercises are enough to cure these types of pains. Some patients simply need to have their computer monitor adjusted, or are given stretching exercises to do between long periods at the computer keyboard. The stretching may be for the wrist but should also address the entire arm and neck to be comprehensive. How we sit and whether there is forward head posture are also important considerations. The forward head posture can stretch your spinal cord and nerve roots making the nerves more susceptible to pressure when they eventually pass through the carpal tunnel.


In other patients, the problem of joint alignment needs to be properly addressed. Through specific chiropractic adjustments, the motion of the joints and their alignment can be restored. Such misalignments may occur at the wrist or even the neck.

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