A Sensible, Non-Surgical View on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment, Marin
The current medical/surgical/pharmacological approach to this epidemic problem is largely failing us, demonstrated by the fact that the typical Carpal Tunnel Syndrome injury results in 30 lost workdays¹ (longer even, than the recovery time for an amputation,¹ amazingly), costs $30,000 in medical treatments and lost wages,¹ and more than half the time ends in some degree of permanent disability.²
Essentially, the average person diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will be out of work for 6 weeks¹, and will face a worse than 50/50 chance of becoming permanently disabled to some extent.² These are disconcerting statistics.
Treating The Symptoms — Ignoring The Cause — Medical Business As Usual
If you were awakened in the middle of the night by your fire alarm, and found your house very hot and full of smoke, you would naturally call the fire department, and would expect them to find and extinguish the fire…
But what if all the fire firefighters did when they arrived was to disconnect the alarm, open all the windows, and blow all the heat and smoke out of the house?
What if they left you with a fire still smoldering in your basement, content that they had solved the problem by removing all the external signs of it?
In dealing with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, that is unfortunately how the allopathic medical system typically functions—by numbing the pain with painkillers (disconnecting the alarm), suppressing the inflammation process with anti-inflammatory drugs (blowing away the heat and smoke), and overlooking the real problem, the injury itself (the fire).
The Standard Medical Options—And Their Shortcomings
Bracing or “splinting”:
The reasoning behind the use of these devices appears to be sound at first: to stabilize the injured area as it heals. This logical sounding argument is flawed, however, for several reasons.
First of all, although fixation is essential to the proper repair of broken bones, it detrimental to muscular healing. Muscles need movement, without it they atrophy or “shrink.”
Secondly, braces also restrict the flow of blood to the area, blood which is carrying oxygen, and nutrients necessary for the repair of the injured tissues.
Lastly, by completely restricting movement in one area, these devices tend to overwork the muscles in the adjoining areas; a problem in the wrist becomes a problem in the elbow or the shoulder.
Pain and anti-inflammatory medications:
Pain, inflammation, and swelling are all symptoms of an injury. Drugs only suppress the symptoms, they do not actually help to heal the injury.
In fact, by interfering with the body’s natural responses, and inhibiting circulation to the injured area, drugs actually slow down the healing process.
Some of the stronger anti-inflammatories are also notorious for serious gastro-intestinal side effects including nausea, stomach pain, and even ulcers
The surgical procedure involves making a small incision in the wrist, to relieve the pressure in the Carpal Tunnel.
How can this be anything more than a temporary fix, considering that it doesn’t address the causative factors that lead to the swelling and pressure in the first place?
The swelling is just as likely to reoccur, and all too often does—One’s pants become uncomfortably tight. Does buying a bigger pair of pants permanently solve the problem if one continues to gain weight?
Surgery, as an option to relieve pain caused by muscular inflammation and swelling, begs for serious reconsideration.
Looking Beyond The Obvious—It’s Not “All In The Wrist”
The Carpal Tunnel is the obvious site of the most distress, and where most approaches fixate their attention, but we need to look beyond the obvious to the deeper causes of the problem.
The injury actually begins in the powerful muscles of the forearm that control the motions of the wrist and hand.
The strain from repeatedly performing a task, like typing, using a mouse, or scanning groceries, causes tiny tears in these muscles. It’s a form of “micro-trauma” that happens insidiously over a long period of time.
On the surface, this type of injury seems very different from a sudden violent injury like a sprain or fracture—the nervous system however, makes no distinction.
The nervous system reacts to the tiny tears in the muscle tissues the same way it reacts to a severe injury, it initiates the inflammation process and shortens the length of the injured muscles.
This is the typically overlooked, true cause of the chain reaction leading to swelling in the carpal tunnel, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The Carpal Tunnel is a passageway in the palm side of the wrist, through which nine tendons and a nerve, (the median) pass from the forearm to the hand.
The situation turns very serious there, when the tendons (and their synovial sheaths or “casings”) start to become inflamed and swell.
Normally these tendons glide easily in their protective sheaths, but this delicate balance is easily upset by the increased tension from the injured muscles, to which they are attached.
Eventually, the pressure from the swelling tendon sheaths builds up in the limited space of the Carpal Tunnel to the point where it affects the median nerve.
The nerve suffers from a lack of oxygen, and the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome begin: pain, tingling, numbness, and loss of hand strength.
A certain amount of local friction and irritation in the Carpal Tunnel is certainly involved, and this is where most conventional efforts are focused, but it is the constant irritation from the shortened, injured forearm muscles that prevents those efforts from being largely successful.
Soft Tissue Release: A Non-Surgical Alternative
Soft Tissue Release addresses the cause of the problem at its root, by normalizing the muscles of the forearm.
Once again, it is the microscopic injury to these muscles that sets off the chain reaction leading to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
In truth, Soft Tissue Release is not a treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it is a treatment for muscular injuries and imbalances.
With a large emphasis on releasing the muscles—that become the tendons—which pass through the Carpal Tunnel.
You can read more about it here: Soft Tissue Release