Martha has been complaining that her wrists hurt and that her hands were often numb. The orthopedic surgeon diagnosed a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and prescribed wrist surgery. CTS is perhaps one of the more common misdiagnosed arm conditions. The symptoms are very similar to Wrist Tendonitis and differential diagnosis is not too difficult. Certainly patients frequently misdiagnose their own problem and unfortunately so do their doctors, perhaps this happens because testing for tendonitis requires familiarity with soft tissue conditions, not very well taught in medical schools. The best doctors to correctly identify wrist tendonitis are Doctors of Chiropractic exactly because they are extensively taught how to interpret soft tissue injuries and repetitive syndromes.
The cause of most wrist tendonitis cases is repetitive stress or over exertion of the muscles of the hand that raise the hand upward as in computer use, typing and many household chores. These muscles are actually not found in the hand but nearer to the elbow (see image) which have tendons that extend into the hand and fingers.
Two classic signs of wrist tendonitis, in addition to the pain or numbness of the wrist and hands, is the pad-like swelling on the top of the wrist area and the ropey-like sore and tender muscles of the top of the forearm near the elbow. These are the two areas that, when massaged and iced, will resolve the pain and numbness. So the wrist pain and hand numbness are side-effects or secondary and are not the problem itself.
SIMPLE SELF TREATMENT PROTOCOLS:
- Massage the forearm muscles cross-fiber, or against the grain back and forth for a few minutes
- Place a squeezing pressure type of massage around the wrist pushing the fluids up the arm (toward the heart)
- Ice either or both areas for 10-15 minutes.
- Repeat twice per day for two weeks.
Problem solved! If this approach sounds too simple, it isn’t. It is somewhat painful to deep massage the muscles and to ice the areas.
Of course too, there must be a careful review of your lifestyle that caused the repetitive stress in the first place; too much computer use without resting, too much house work at one time, a hobby that overuses your forearm muscles, etc.
In my private chiropractic practice, in fact twice this week, the scenario happens only too often where patients come to me having been told that they were advised to undergo wrist surgery for this condition being misdiagnosed as Carpal Tunnel. Folks, let me make a plain statement: “Never undergo wrist surgery without first getting a second opinion from a Doctor of Chiropractic.” Martha agrees.