What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one of this most misdiagnosed chronic pain conditions in the medical community for debilitating pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the arms, wrists and hands.
Layman terms describes Carpal Tunnel syndrome as a condition causing spontaneous numbness and/or pain in the hand, wrist, neck, shoulder as well as burning between your shoulder blades and tingling down into your hands.
Many medical practitioners mistakenly diagnose pain that shoots down the arm into the hand and wrist as carpal tunnel syndrome. Often surgery is recommended when the actual cause of pain has nothing to do with the nerve but has everything to do with muscle imbalances that lead to poor posture and trigger points mimicking “carpal tunnel like” symptoms.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Sharp, Burning or Aching Pain In The Arms And Hands
- Left Hand Pain
- Right Hand Pain
- Pain In Forearm
- Wrist Pain
What Really Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain?
The three most common reasons for carpal tunnel syndrome are muscle imbalances, poor posture, and trigger points. Muscle imbalances and poor posture cause the neck and shoulder muscles to push on nerves that connect to the arms. The result is pain shooting into the hand and wrist which mimics the classic symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Your muscle imbalances and poor posture also cause trigger points to flare up and radiate pain from the neck and shoulders into your arms and wrist. Trigger points are like “landmine” knots present deep within muscle tissue that radiate pain to other parts of the body. Thus, you may feel pain in your wrist and arms, yet the cause of pain is in your shoulders and neck.
Clearly, a carpal tunnel diagnosis in the situation described above would not lead to correct treatment preventing carpal tunnel syndrome. Drugs and surgery in such a situation will obviously be unsuccessful since the actual source of pain, muscle imbalances or trigger points, is not being treated. The right course of treatment involves fixing your muscle imbalance, correcting postural alignment, and releasing trigger points to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
What are the most common Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments?
The most common treatments by the medical community usually are Cortisone injections and prescription drugs for muscle relaxants or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Physical therapists and Chiropractors offer therapeutic exercises, spinal manipulation, ice, heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation.
Surgery is the least attractive, last resort option to do only if your symptoms are severe enough and you exhausted all options.
Why do traditional treatments fail to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Most Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treatments fail because they typically focus on the area of pain, rather than the source of why it occurs. The saying “If you’re a hammer, all you see is nails” rings true for the medical community’s view of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, as most practitioners have “Tunnel Vision” and take a narrow-minded approach. You’re not treating the source by focusing on the area of pain in the wrist or hand, because 99% of the time it’s coming from muscle imbalances, poor posture, and trigger points in the neck and shoulders. Traditional approaches fail because most of the time Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is misdiagnosed as a hand or wrist issue, when in fact it’s really a neck, shoulder, muscle balance and postural issue.
What are the hidden culprits really causing Carpal Tunnel Symptoms?
Let us now look at some of the muscle groups that are often at the cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms. While the medical community often misdiagnoses it as a hand or wrist issue, these muscles are more of the root cause and mimic carpal tunnel symptoms.
One muscle group is your Scalene muscles. These are muscles that are at the source of a lot of the pain that travels all the way down your arm into your hands. These muscles get tight with many trigger points causing numbness and burning into your hand. These muscles are at the front of your neck. They cause a burning and tightness between your shoulder blades. They get tight due to a couple of reasons, namely:
- Poor posture from slouching
- Sitting at a computer all day
- Sitting at a desk
- Actually from breathing – being a chest breather and not a belly breather where you’re always just breathing tight in your chest, so the muscles are always being forced to work because the scalene muscle attaches to your ribs (it’s a breathing muscle). Overexertion of your scalene muscle causes a lot of the pain down your arm.
This is a deep muscle in your shoulder and it causes a lot of pain down your arm into your hand, namely into your wrist. That muscle is deep in your rotator cuff and it also gets tight because of rounding of shoulders at the computer desk. It radiates pain into your wrist. Sometimes you have to move and take off your watch or bracelet into the other hand because you have this pain in the wrist and may think you have carpal tunnel syndrome, but it’s really coming from your shoulders because of this muscle, the trigger point, radiating pain down your arm.
Pectoralis Minor Muscle
This is a little muscle underneath your Pectoral Major, which is the big pectoralis muscle. It attaches into ribs three, four and five. The Pectoralis Minor radiates pain all the way down your arm and also into the chest. It can be so severe that sometimes people think they are having a heart attack. The pain is not caused by a nerve but rather because the muscle has trigger points that radiate pain down into your arm, chest and hand.
A Word about Posture
Poor posture is one of the main reasons why the above muscles become imbalanced and trigger points get exacerbated, therefore causing you a lot of symptoms that are similar to carpal tunnel as well as leading to thoracic outlet syndrome. Your shoulder blades get really exacerbated and irritated when you sit with your head forward at your computer at your desk or when your shoulders are rounded and you slouch in the car, at your desk or in your couch.
Unfortunately, many of us sit and live in this little box where we’re always slouching e.g. the car, desk, couch and so on. To ensure that you are always in good posture, focus on having good alignment with your ear right over your shoulder, and your shoulder over your hips. In this position, all three of the above muscles are in their normal resting length so they are not irritated, stressed or tense. Check out the videos in this site on proper posture as well.
There are great ways to achieve proper postural alignment, including postural alignment exercises. And some other great ways to treat those muscles on your own in order to minimize the symptoms in your hands and become more pain free. For more information on treating muscle imbalances and trigger points, please visit www.GetPainFree.Tv and say goodbye to chronic pain.