HOW MUCH DO YOU REALLY KNOW ABOUT CTS?

Undoubtedly you have heard of the condition known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and many may be tempted to skip over this post, but I think it’s important we slow down and take a look. There is more to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) than meets the eye. Today we are putting your knowledge to the test: Can you answer the following trivia questions?

 

True or False: CTS is the most common nerve entrapment in the body?

 

This one is actually true! However, it is only reported in about 3-9% of the general population. While not making it an uncommon diagnosis, it definitely isn’t as rampant as Dr. Google may have you believe. One reason being is there are several conditions that do a good job of mimicking CTS (like De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and Pronator Teres Syndrome just to name a few). CTS is most frequently found in adults in their early 50’s and more often in women than men.

True or False: CTS is acquired from spending too long at a keyboard?

Contrary to popular belief, the evidence does not suggest keyboard and computer work as risk factors for CTS. Jobs with repetitive motions that stress the wrist and are more likely to lead to CTS. Since typing doesn’t require constant motion at the wrist, CTS is not as common as those occupations that are exposed to excess vibration, increased hand force, and repeated flexion and extension of the wrist.

 

True or False: CTS causes numbness in the entire hand?

 

False. CTS will only cause numbness in the thumb, index, middle and occasionally half of the ring finger. The carpal tunnel is a structure in the wrist that contains the median nerve. If the tunnel space is decreased, pressure is put on the median nerve and numbness/tingling is felt only in the area of the nerve’s distribution. Numbness found in the pinky finger and outside of the hand may be the compression of the ulnar nerve (a nerve that does not pass through the carpal tunnel).

 

True or False: If I’m diagnosed with CTS I have to get surgery to make a full recovery?

 

Not necessarily. Surgery should only be considered after 2-7 weeks of nonsurgical treatment such as: wearing a splint at night, activity modification to decrease repetitive wrist motion, massage, physical therapy, and acupuncture.

 

True or False: CTS will go away on its own and there is no need to change my work habits or seek care?

 

I’m sure most of you got this one right. In two independent cohort studies, only 34% of patients showed spontaneous improvement, 45% had no change and 21% had worsening symptoms. So what is the progression of CTS if not treated?

  • Early stage

    • nocturnal feeling of numbness, tingling, or swelling (no visible swelling)

    • pain from wrist may radiate to shoulder

    • pain stops with shaking of hand/wrist

  • Second stage

    • symptoms felt during day as well as at night

    • repeated hand or wrist movements or keeping hand in same position for long time cause symptoms to occur

    • clumsiness and loss of grip may develop

  • Third stage

    • decrease in muscle tone on the base of the palm just below the thumb

    • sensory symptoms may no longer be felt

 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be a complicated diagnosis. The good news is that early chiropractic treatment is very effective. If you think you might have CTS, talk with doctor today.