Carpal Tunnel and its Diagnosis

Pain in the wrist and hand can be a difficult to diagnose properly. 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 who is best?

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

Your doctor should ask how long the problem has lasted, and if there has been any trauma. Trauma to the neck is especially important, and 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. 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 others, 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. The misalignments may occur at the wrist or even the neck.