Is It Really Carpal Tunnel Or Is It My Neck?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has a variety of symptoms such as burning, tingling, numbness and stiffness in the hands, wrists and forearms.  True Carpal Tunnel is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the wrist.

However, when a nerve in the neck (cervical spine) is compressed, irritated, or inflamed, which is commonly described as a “pinched” nerve, you may experience very similar symptoms as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Because the cervical spine is involved, this condition is described as Cervical Radiculopathy.

But what causes the nerve(s) in your neck to be compressed or “pinched?”  Certain traumas like a motor vehicle accident or a fall can be a factor.  However, more common causes include disc degeneration, disc bulges, bone spurs, arthritis and/or the loss of the normal curve in the cervical spine. 

Patients with any of these neck conditions may complain of a dull ache in their fingers with numbness or tinging sensations, weakness in their arm and/or hand, as well as pain that radiates down their arm to their wrist, hand or fingers. 

Before pursuing wrist surgery, see your chiropractor for a thorough orthopedic and neurological evaluation of the cervical spine.  If medically necessary, diagnostic imaging of the cervical spine can confirm if a patient has any of the described conditions above that is causing nerve impingement, irritation or inflammation. 

If its determined that the symptoms are coming from a cervical spine condition, then chiropractic treatment, including spinal manipulation, physiotherapy, cervical traction and exercises for the neck can all help alleviate and even resolve these symptoms. 

So before deciding on surgery, see your chiropractor first so he or she can determine what is actually causing your pain…nerve compression in your neck or a compressed median nerve in your wrist.  Conservative care is ALWAYS worth trying before surgical intervention!