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Let's Talk Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - week 1

Updated: Mar 12

Is it REALLY CARPAL Tunnel Syndrome?

In my 24 years of practicing as a Registered Massage Therapist, carpal tunnel syndrome is probably the most misdiagnosed condition that I see.

I have seen 100s of people with numbness and pain in their hands, most of which have been told that they have carpal tunnel syndrome. Some have even had the nerve conduction test done and carpal tunnel was confirmed. Yet when I assess them, they do not have the normal signs. They have no pain or increased pain when I compress the carpal tunnel externally. They have no pain or increased pain with flexion or extension of the wrist. So why are they experiencing pain and numbness in the hand?

The important thing to note is that peripheral neuropathy (that’s what carpal tunnel syndrome is) can be caused by damage, irritation, or adherence anywhere along the entire span of the nerve, from the neck to the hand. TRUE carpal tunnel syndrome only has adherence and compression at the carpal tunnel at the wrist.

So, after assessing someone who has been told they have carpal tunnel and have even been put on the list for surgery I check the entire nerve for irritation, damage, or compression. Often, I find compression or irritation in the shoulder or elbow.  The unfortunate thing about the nerve conduction test is that it only tests the nerve from the elbow down. So, if the nerve is irritated higher up the chain the test still comes out positive. Sometimes the damage or compression comes from the cervical spine (the neck) however, there is usually pain in the shoulder and elbow as well as the hand.  

True Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is pain and numbness only in the hand and the pain is worse with compression of the carpal tunnel (found in the wrist). The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist.  When this area is inflamed the carpal tunnel is narrower than normal. Over time it is possible to develop scar tissue in this tunnel as well, that is when surgery is the only option. See the photos below to see the location and the test. 

If you are unsure and not ready to go for surgery, I would gladly assess your median nerve to determine the root cause and see if you truly have carpal tunnel syndrome. Even if you REALLY do have carpal tunnel there are other options for treatment.  If inflammation at the carpal tunnel is the cause, we can decrease that inflammation and work on the soft tissues in the area to release the hold on the nerve as it passes through the tunnel. See below the Facebook Live Video I did on this very subject.

To book an assessment just call 613-308-9450 and we will happily book you in to see me.


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