Throughout my twenties, I found myself donning wrist braces every night to stave off the alternating waves of searing pain and near-numbness that plagued my hands. Daylight hours brought a different challenge – a weakened grip and a milder iteration of the burning and numbing sensations. Witnessing my father endure three successive carpal tunnel surgeries, each yielding diminishing results, left me with a resolute determination to avoid treading the same path.
If you’ve experienced the grip of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, my words likely resonate with you. The array of pain, numbness, or burning can be an unpredictable mix. Some days, you might be uncertain which sensation will greet you, while for others, it’s a relentless cycle of one or more of these symptoms. Regardless of where you stand, sleep becomes elusive, and everyday activities involving your hands progressively morph into formidable challenges.
The carpal tunnel, a small passageway within the wrist, serves as a conduit for the median nerve. This vital nerve travels from the arm to the hand, transmitting essential signals to the forearm and hand muscles. It enables intricate movements such as gripping, thumb motion, and sensory functions in these regions. When this tunnel constricts, compressing the nerve within, complications arise. Carpal tunnel surgery involves cutting a ligament that spans this wrist area, aiming to alleviate the pressure. For some, nerve compression at the wrist is the root issue, necessitating surgical intervention.
In my personal journey and that of numerous patients I’ve encountered, pursuing surgery would have been an erroneous decision. In my case, the root cause lay in the misalignment of the uppermost cervical vertebrae, exerting pressure on the median nerve as it branched from the brainstem. This compression was mimicking the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, yet it wasn’t the wrist’s ligament at fault. Consequently, wrist surgery would have yielded no relief for my predicament.
The median nerve, like all nerves, emanates from the spinal cord within the upper cervical region of the neck before extending down the arm. Compression can manifest at any point along this trajectory, yielding identical symptoms. This accounts for instances where patients have undergone carpal tunnel decompression surgery at the wrist, only to continue grappling with persistent symptoms.
In certain scenarios, compression occurs both at the wrist and in the upper neck, culminating in what’s known as double crush syndrome. Here, decompression surgery may be required for the wrist, but addressing the neck compression remains pivotal to eradicating the burning and numbness. And then, as in my own experience, the source of compression could be isolated to the upper cervical neck area.
More than a decade has elapsed since I last donned wrist braces, a transformation catalyzed by the correction of misaligned upper cervical vertebrae and the subsequent release of pressure on the median nerve. Prudent protocol dictates evaluating the cervical spine before considering surgical measures, ensuring surgery’s necessity. If warranted, so be it, but commencing with the least invasive avenue holds broader appeal, a sentiment shared by many.
For those seeking resolution, we extend a complimentary screening to ascertain whether cervical compression underpins your carpal tunnel distress. Reach out to us at the Upper Cervical Health Centers of Fort Myers for your free consultation today: 239-243-8810!