Wrist Pain, Carpal Tunnel, and Driving Problems…

Posted on October 4, 2011. Filed under: Joints, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , |

When I was studying to be a chiropractor, some of my fellow students were quite heavy into lifting weights. One of my classmates was quite an accomplished power lifter; he was about my size, but he was renowned during our early learning days of “hands on” evaluation and treatment as having the thickest low back muscles of anyone in the class.   We used to joke you could hide a CD between them. He worked out hard of course, and certainly deserved the respect he got for his powerful back..

Why do I mention him? Even back then, his wrist would give problems from time to time.  A year or two ago,  I touched base with him to see how he was doing and found out that a nerve-related condition had caused him to practically stop training and his wrist condition had forced him to quit his clinical practice; the profession suffered a great loss without him.  So, it’s clear that wrist problems are not to be taken lightly.

Complicated Anatomy

Few body parts are as anatomically complicated as the wrist, and the wrist and hand as a unit are certainly the most complex musculoskeletal structure. What I mean by anatomically complicated is that two arm bones, the eight wrist bones, and five hand bones and fourteen finger bones by virtue of direct and indirect connections of ligament and tendon form an incredibly flexible, complicated manipulative instrument. From a clinical point of view, the wrist can be affected by conditions in the neck, shoulder and elbow; remembering the principles of primary and secondary conditions we know that dysfunctions or habitual distortions in one part of the body can and do cause dysfunction and distortions in other parts- the “tugging on the chain” situation in which one link tugs on all the rest.

How do you know when there is a problem?

What You Might Feel

As usual, symptoms come in two broad, inclusive categories. There are problems with how your hand or wrist works, and there are negative changes in how you feel. In other words, it could be that your wrist seems weak, extra loose or more likely resistant to moving in one or more directions. This could be indicative of swelling, deep tissue damage, calcification in some of the soft tissues which should be supple and certainly free of hard, immobile calcium; or muscles could be in spasm.

Pain is easier to talk about as it is harder to ignore than something that is painless but doesn’t work just right. The main symptoms to watch out for are persistent tingling and sharp, stabbing pains, though wrists can ache quit a lot, as well as burn, itch or feel tight and hot. Each of these indicates some sort of underlying disorder.

A key symptom to watch for is a deep ache in the middle of the wrist that persists for weeks or more, especially after a fall. I have had patients who have experienced this and upon close x-ray evaluation have been diagnosed with “avascular necrosis” which translates to an abnormally reduced blood supply to an important wrist bone that has allowed the bone to starve and rot away.

Tingling, numbness and burning on the palm-side of the wrist that persists could indicate carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to irritation of the nerve that travels down the palm-side of the forearm, on top of the rows of wrist bones and which splits to innervate the palm of the hand. At the wrist, a band of tissue called the “flexor retinaculum” connects some of the wrist bones and forms a tunnel through which the nerve passes. If the tissue becomes thickened, the bones become dislodged undo irritation of this nerve can take place and the most unpleasant weakness and pain of “carpal tunnel syndrome” can occur.

This syndrome has received much attention in recent years, especially with the increase in computer usage and the many hours at the keyboard required of students and certain professions.

Fortunately surgery isn’t always needed – in our clinic we successfully treat it by acupuncture vitamin B-6, and making sure the whole arm and neck with it’s many nerves are in perfect shape.

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