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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Get Wet, Get Fit-Joint-Friendly Exercise

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Exercise, Joints | Tags: , , , , |

swim for joint friendly exercise

By Doctor Gregory Steiner~

No, I don’t mean going to the nearest water park and sliding down the tube, though as I write this article it sure sounds good in all the heat…..

What we’re talking about is exercising in the pool, sometimes called “water aerobics,” though there is much more to water exercise then aerobics. First we had better define our terms; that word – ‘aerobics’ – goes back some years now, and was originally coined to describe exercise that particularly stresses the aerobic  energy systems of the body.  Basically this means the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, though there are more parts involved than only those. These days we mean the same thing by ‘cardio.’ You get on the stepper or bike, run or pedal away, and if you get the right intensity and time you get fitter and burn fat, and your resting heart rate starts to drop. Good and necessary stuff this cardio, but there is a reason that most gyms have TV screens in front of the cardio section!

However, cardio by itself is not complete.  Usually among keep-fit people there are three main types – the strength lovers, the endurance-cardio people, and the flexibility folks who gravitate to yoga and often Pilates.  Each of these factors is indeed important, and it’s a fine, fit individual who is simultaneously strong, flexible and who has real staying power.

There is a ‘what if’ however, and that what-it is what happens if a person has painful joints? For example, if a knee or hip is worn away, too much strength stress will hurt the joint, impact from running type motions often jars the joint, and even stretching can be limited and very painful.

That’s one important way in which water exercise comes in. You will note we didn’t use the term ‘water aerobics’ this time and here’s why.  If a water work-out program is designed well, it won’t just be working the heart and lungs, but it will also be crafted to strengthen muscles and mobilize joints.

There are levels intensity to water exercise, ranging from tame to insane….to each his or her own! On the one hand, I have had a large number of older patients who just can’t perform standard gym exercises or cardio due to structural limitation, wear and tear, or just plain old pain. They almost always perform water workouts successfully and profit very much from doing so.

At the other end of the spectrum I have known very ‘serious’ work-out people who have approached water exercise with an extreme intensity to assist their primary athletic pursuits, which have included martial arts and track and field. These people tell me they are amazed at the amount of whole-body effort then expend in a water work-out.

The way you do water exercise varies, but what often takes place is that you put on some ‘flippers, fins and water wings’ – accessories that attach to various parts of your body – and which increase the resistance of the water to any and all motions that you make. This is a unique aspect of water exercise, that no matter how and where you move you are under constant resistance, so the whole body gets a new kind of workout. If you move fast, you get a lot of resistance, if you push less hard, less resistance. And, water being water, your body can move in and direction possible as it is not confined to the angles of the machine.

Easy on the joint, hard on the muscles and lungs – try water exercise for a joint-healthy change of pace.

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