Carpal tunnel syndrome accounts for over $1 billion in direct costs annually in the United States. It is the most common nerve compression disorder in the upper extremity. Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by pain in the hand and fingers due to compression of the median nerve. It may be caused by repetitive movements over a long period, or by fluid retention, and is characterized by sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning.
I am sure most of you know a relative, friend or coworker that has dealt with carpal tunnel syndrome.
The other day, Bob Gazso had told me an intriguing story about his mother, who was previously diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.
He said, “My mother had pains in her hands and wrists about 8 years ago, so she went to see a neurologist. The neurologist ran some nerve conduction tests and was diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. The doctor recommended surgery to alleviate the symptoms.
Warning: Graphic Image. Click to see Carpal Tunnel Surgery at your own risk.
With surgery costing over $7000 and recovery times regularly exceeding several months, it is quite a major operation.
Clinically, I have seen carpal tunnel syndrome misdiagnosed many times, so I asked her to get a second opinion. I referred to a bodyworker, Ann Watkins, a very skilled practitioner of many modalities, including NeuroKinetic Therapy. Ann diagnosed my mother with thoracic outlet syndrome. She found several impingement sites of the median nerve and began treatment.
After the first session of bodywork, the pain went away for three weeks. After the second session, the pain went away for good. The surgeries were cancelled. That was 8 years ago and I am happy to say it never came back.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is commonly misdiagnosed. While my mother did display nerve conduction dysfunction in her extremities, it was incorrect to assume the compression was coming from median nerve compression in the wrist. Think of a nerve like a hose and the electrical impulses traveling through the nerve as water. We know that if you put a rock on a hose, the flow of water is decreased. This happens regardless of where you put the rock on the hose – a rock at the beginning or at the end will equally impeded flow. Similarly, in my mother’s case the impingement, which originally was believed to have been at the wrist, actually was occurring in multiple locations along the nerve, including the shoulder, neck and near the armpit. These impingement sites can be treated by a very skilled bodyworker. NKT, PDTR, and ART all have protocols for dealing with compressed nerves.
I feel very fortunate that I had the knowledge and resources to point my mother in the direction of appropriate treatment. This non-surgical invention saved thousands of dollars and most importantly vastly improved the quality of my mothers life.”
While surgery is sometimes necessary, I believe we owe it to ourselves to explore a variety of treatment options.
People often associate bodywork with relaxation and “feeling good.” While this is important, it is also important to realize the therapeutic potential of a skilled bodyworker. The science of bodywork continues to expand. Techniques including Active Release Technique, NeuroKinetic Therapy, and Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex give bodyworkers a myriad of tools to treat conditions such as sciatica, shoulder impingement, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more. Next time you have a malady, be sure to reach out to a clinical bodyworker for their expert opinion.
Learn more about Coach Bob here!