Arm/hand pain can be caused from a variety of conditions. Often the pain can originate from within the arm or hand itself or radiate from the neck, elbow or shoulder. Nerves from the neck travel down though the shoulder and into the arm, irritation to the nerves may cause pain to be referred into the arm/hand. Therefore, it is essential to examine all the different structures that may contribute to the pain.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The hand is a very complex and delicate structure and when dysfunction and pain occurs in this region it can have a large impact on a person’s life. One of the more common hand conditions seen at Integral Healthcare is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The hand has many vessels, nerves and muscles that control its movements, sensations and functions. The Carpal Tunnel is formed from the small bones of the hand (carpals), these bones form the floor of the tunnel. The arch of the tunnel is formed by a sheath of connective tissue that traverses these bones, this forms the tunnel through which the various structures pass. Of particular importance is the Median Nerve that passes through this tunnel, it is the compression of the median nerve that causes the symptoms associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The main symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are numbness, pain or tingling in the skin of the palm, the thumb, index and middle finger. On the knuckle side of the hand, sensation maybe affected in the nail bed of the thumb, index and middle finger. Due to the median nerve supply to muscles of the hand, long term (chronic) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can cause muscular atrophy (wasting). This is most notable in the thenar eminence (the fleshy muscle at the base of the thumb).
At Integral Healthcare time is taken to assess the cause of your carpal tunnel by evaluating the wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck. All these structures are assessed because the median nerve passes through them and often problems are found in these areas as well as the wrist, this is termed a double crush.
Many people seek medical intervention for Carpal Tunnel, this generally involves cortisone injections. Unfortunately, this type of treatment is focused towards the symptoms rather than the cause. In addition to the side effects, the symptoms are likely to recur once cortisone therapy is stopped. A good option is to try conservative Chiropractic treatment which aims to increase the space ratio within the associated structures thus removing pressure from the median nerve so that symptoms may reduce and resolve without the long term use of medications.
Shooting Pain In The Arm
With pain that radiates or shoots down the arm and/or into the hands and fingers. It is important to assess the wrists, shoulders and muscles paying, particular interest to the neck. Through a thorough assessment of the involved structures it is possible to locate the cause of the pain so that appropriate management can be undertaken. This is done by testing skin sensation, muscular strength, muscle reflexes, coordination and varying different tests. The results of these examinations will allow your Chiropractor to diagnose the cause of your problem.
In some cases, further testing such as X-ray, MRI or ultrasound maybe required. In these cases, the Chiropractor will refer you for the appropriate tests. It is always important to seek early intervention to achieve the best prognosis and resolve the problem in a timely manner.
Tennis Elbow & Golfers Elbow
Tennis and Golfers elbow are common conditions relating to tendon injuries on the outside or the inside of the elbow respectively.
- Tennis Elbow: Pain on the inside of the elbow, known as lateral epicondylitis.
- Golfers Elbow: Pain on the outside of the elbow, known as medial epicondylitis.
Both conditions are the result of repetitive irritation to the tendinous attachments at the elbow. Over time the repetitive irritation causes an inflammatory response, this results in a hypersensitive reaction when overloaded or when carrying out normal tasks. The pain may occur at the time of irritation or even a few days after the event. In more chronic cases there is also the possibility that symptoms may radiate into the forearm, hand and wrist. Persons with this condition may experience weakness in grip, often affecting many tasks such as holding a cup or unscrewing a jar. Symptoms often arise after intense overload but may also present gradually. Many people who have mild symptoms should seek prompt intervention to prevent further injury, improve prognosis and reduce treatment times.
Following a thorough orthopaedic, neurological and physical examination your Chiropractor will explain the findings and advise on the best course of action to resolve your issues.