Austin Rolfing: Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

At my Rolfing practice in Austin, Texas I have a lot of clients coming in who think they might have carpel tunnel syndrome.  In fact, I have yet to have a single client who has had carpel tunnel syndrome.  A large majority of people get numbness or tingling in their fingers and have heard that that is a symptom of carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) and assume that’s what they must have without doing any research.  Let’s take a look at what carpel tunnel syndrome really is.


Wikipedia defines CTS as, “an entrapment median neuropathy, causing paresthesia, pain, numbness, and other symptoms in the distribution of the median nerve due to its compression at the wrist in the carpal tunnel”.  The median nerve is one of 3 main nerves that send and receive information in your arms.  It originates from a grouping of the nerves in the neck, called the brachial plexus, dives under your collar bone (clavicle) and extends all the way down into your fingertips.  Entrapment median neuropathy simply means that the median nerve is being pinched or compressed and it’s causing disease or damage to the nerve itself.  The carpal tunnel is as you guessed it, a tunnel that passes through your carpal (wrist) bones.


CTS is often thought to be caused by repetitive motion at work but in fact has many origins including lipomas, obesity, oral contraceptives, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes, and trauma.  The symptoms usually include numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the thumb and fingers, in particular the index, middle fingers, and radial half of the ring fingers (on the palm side of the hand).


To date, all of the clients that come to my Rolfing practice in Austin end up complaining of nerve numbness or tingling in fingers or place of the hand that are fed by nerves other than the median nerve.  Therefore, they probably have a nerve entrapment issue, but not of the median nerve through the carpal tunnel.  More often than not, the entrapment is happening further up the arm as the nerves weave their way in between muscles and ligaments or even as they dive under the collar bone on their way from the neck (which in fact is the most common place for entrapment).


As a Rolfer in Austin treating “carpal tunnel syndrome” like symptoms, I’ll look at your whole body to find out where the source of the issue is and not just chase where the symptoms are showing up.  Most of my training following the Rolf institute has been on working with nerve pathology & entrapment issues and how to resolve them non-surgically.   And, on the rare occasion that I can’t help I am in constant contact with a great team of medical professionals (both western and eastern philosophies) around the Austin area that can help you get rid of your pain.

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