This blog is going to continue with a theme about technology (as we discussed some Apps for Appetite in the previous blog). However, besides using technology to help our health, I want discusses a condition that can be caused by the use of technology because our western culture is very tech savvy and everyone uses computers.
Because of the change in social and work use of technology the prevalence of a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has increased. Keep in mind the use of computers isn’t the only thing that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. It can be caused by repetitive use of the wrist leading to a series of events that ultimately over time can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Besides occupational factors leading to carpal tunnel syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with several diseases and situations. Some of these are:
- amyloidosis (infiltration of the liver, kidneys, spleen with a starch-like substance)
- hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)
- tumours of tendon sheaths
- wrist fractures and dislocations
- wrist cysts
- use of oral contraceptives
So What is the Carpal Tunnel?
The Carpal Tunnel is a structure created by the bones and ligaments of the wrist. There two bones in the forearm. These two bones run parallel and form a U-shaped cup at our wrist. Inside this cup sit the eight tiny bones, called carpal or wrist bones.
These bones form what is known as the “floor” or the bottom of the Carpal Tunnel. The “roof” of is a ligament. Between the roof and the floor, there are tendons going to the fingers (that control hand movement) and one nerve. Basically, the carpal tunnel is a space where some tendons and a nerve go through.
So what? What is the big deal?
How does carpal tunnel syndrome develop?
Bending the wrist or moving the fingers moves the tendons that are in the carpal tunnel. The tendons are encased in sheaths. These sheaths allow the tendons to slide. The walls of the sheaths contain a fluid to keep the tendons moving smoothly. With repetitive or excessive movement of the hand and/or wrist, the lubrication of the tendons in the sheath decreases. This ultimately leads to friction between the tendon and its sheath causing inflammation and swelling. The swelling then leads to squeezing of the nerve in the carpal tunnel. Repeated episodes of inflammation cause fibrous tissue to form, again putting pressure on the median nerve. In non-occupational causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, there is still an increase in the volume of the contents of the carpal tunnel, resulting in compression of the nerve.
The symptoms of nerve compression can result in sensations of numbness, tingling, pain, and clumsiness of the hand. This combination of symptoms is called carpal tunnel syndrome. If left alone long enough a severe case can lead to weakness and eventually atrophy of groups of muscles in the hand.
Here is a good video visually showing the carpal tunnel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J11EIfiHMYw
Treatment options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Traditional medical treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome include such things as pain medications, cortisone shots and even surgery. Since carpal tunnel is due to ligament enlargement and compression, and chiropractors specialize in treating joints/ligaments, consider visiting a chiropractor in your local area. Chiropractors can offer treatment options such as joint mobilization(Chiropractic Adjustments), Acupuncture, Graston Technique®, Kinesiotaping, exercises and even ergonomic advice to help treat this condition.
I offer a great therapy in the office, called the Graston Technique® to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Here is a video demonstrating the treatment.
Anyways, I hope that explains how technology can be both helpful and harmful.