What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Muscle Therapy and Health, Pain Relief, What Causes Carpal Tunnel

The Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Are Caused By Tight Muscles

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

what causes carpal tunnel syndromeWhat causes carpal tunnel?

In 1997 I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome: wrist pain, tingling and numb fingers. The pain and burning was horrible, it prevented me from even picking up a pencil or holding a glass. As a massage therapist it was devastating, my hands are my livelihood! I tried everything and finally had to close down my therapy practice because the pain was so severe. I knew I wasn’t going to go for surgery, but carpal tunnel syndrome was a hurdle that was pushing me out of work and I didn’t know where to turn.

Finally, I started to think of the logic of the body.  While everyone was looking at my wrist and forearm, the median nerve that causes the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t start in my arm, but where does it start?  Research showed that the nerve actually starts in your NECK!  Who would have thought this would be what causes carpal tunnel!

I found the solution to my problem, and I’ve been bringing it to people worldwide ever since.

How Muscles in Your Neck Can Be What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

muscles cause carpal tunnel syndromeA bundle of nerves called the Brachial Plexus  (see three lines in neck of drawing) comes out of your cervical vertebrae and at the top of your shoulder the fibers divide into three nerves:

  1.  The Median Nerve – which goes to your thumb and first two fingers
  2. The Ulnar Nerve – which goes to your ring and pinky fingers
  3.  The Radial Nerve – which goes to your wrist

Your Scalenes muscle is in front of, and in back of the brachial plexus.

When the scalenes are in spasm, they put pressure on the bundle of nerves and it can cause tingling and numbness to be felt all the way to your fingers. The purple shading shows the referred pain pattern for the scalenes spasms.  This can be what causes carpal tunnel and in my case this was the primary cause of the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms I had in my thumb and first two fingers.

By the way, your scalenes also cause that burning feeling you get between your shoulder blades.  You are rubbing your back, but the cause of the pain is actually in your neck!

How Muscles in Your Chest and Upper Arm Can Cause the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

coracoid processThe bundle of nerves goes along the front of your body and at the top of your shoulder it breaks into the three nerves (listed above) and they go under a bone called the coracoid process  (a part of your scapula/shoulder blade).

There are three muscles that attach to your coracoid process, (the biceps , pectoralis minor  , and the coracobrachialis ). When any of them are in spasm, they will pull the bone down onto the three nerves causing tingling and numbness to radiate down your arm and into your wrist &/or hand. This is one of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, yet most medical practitioners don’t consider these muscles when searching for the cause of numbness in your fingers.

 

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A Julstro Self-Treatment That Releases Tension in Your Shoulder and Off the Nerves to Your Hand

treatment for carpal tunnel syndromeYou can self-treat your upper arm muscles that are putting pressure on the coracoid AND also on your shoulder joint.

Simply make a fist and press into your biceps, using your opposite hand to help push your elbow so you can go deeper into your biceps.

Hold the pressure for 15-30 seconds and then continue the pressure while you S-L-O-W-L-Y open your arm.  Release the pressure, bend your arm, and repeat 2-3 times

End of Part 1 –

Next month I will show the muscles of your lower arm and hand and why they can be what causes carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Plus, you’ll get a self-treatment that is great for taking the pressure off your carpal tunnel.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

About The Author

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Comments (2)

  • Virginia Holley

    |

    Do I take my affected hand and press into my biceps of the opposite arm?

    Reply

    • Dr. Steve Chaney

      |

      No. It works the other way around. I’ll ask Julie Donnelly for additional comment.

      Reply

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Latest Article

How to Choose the Right Pillow

Posted April 17, 2018 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Wake Up Each Morning Pain Free

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

 

how to choose the right pillow without headachesThe way you sleep is often a key to discovering the cause of headaches and more. If you wake up with neck pain, a headache, or you suffer from ringing in your ears, dizziness, or ear pain, there is a good possibility that it may be caused by the way you are sleeping. Your pillow may be the culprit.  But if you need to know how to choose the right pillow for you, it’s easy.   It just takes a little “investigation.”

 

How to Choose the Right Pillow if You Sleep On Your Side

Your head, neck, and spine need to always stay in a nice straight line, just as it is when you are standing up, but that takes a little thought and understanding of the way you sleep.  So, get comfy in your bed and then notice how your head is resting.

how to choose the right pillow to sleep painfreeIf you sleep on your side, your pillow needs to be just the right size, so your head doesn’t point down toward the mattress (your pillow is too soft) or up to the ceiling (your pillow is too thick). Either of these positions will make the muscles on the side of your neck stay in the contracted position for hours and pull your vertebrae in that direction, especially when you try to turn over to your other side.

Your SCM Muscle May Cause Serious Problems

You also need to notice if you turn your head a bit, especially if you are turning into your pillow or turning your head up toward away from your pillow. In either of these two cases you will be causing your sternocleidomastoid (SCM for short) to be held shortened for hours.

Your SCM originates on your collarbone and inserts into the bone behind your ear.  When it contracts you turn your head to the opposite side. However, if the muscle is tight (for example, when you’ve held your head turned toward one side for an extended period of time) and then you bring your head back so you are facing forward, the tight muscle will pull on the bone behind your ear and cause havoc.

The symptoms for a tight SCM are tinnitus (ringing in the ear), dizziness, loss of equilibrium, ear pain, headaches, pain in the eye and around the skull, pain at the top of the head, and even pain in the throat. Amazing! What’s even more amazing is that it’s rare that this muscle is considered when a medical professional is searching for the cause of your symptoms.

These are the things to know when considering how to choose the right pillow if you sleep on your side.

How To Choose The Right Pillow If You Sleep On Your Back

how to choose the right pillow for sleeping on your backIf you sleep on your back, your head should be on the mattress (not propped up with a pillow) and you should have a tiny support (like a folded washcloth) under your neck.  Or, you can have a wedge pillow that starts at your mid-back and gently raises your entire trunk and head up while still allowing your head and back to be in a straight line.

It’s always a challenge for people who toss and turn during the night, sometimes on their side and sometimes on their back.  The best thing I’ve found for this situation is to have the pillow below shoulder level so when you turn on your side your shoulder will automatically slide to the edge of the pillow while still supporting your head properly, and when you turn onto your back, the pillow will start at shoulder level so your head and neck are supported, but your head is being pushed in a way that causes your chin to move down to your chest.

hip pain causes and treatment pain freeIt’s tricky, but I can personally attest to the fact that it will work.  I can always tell when I’ve had my head tilted (I toss and turn during the night) because I will wake with a headache. When that happens I’m grateful that I know how to self-treat the muscles of my neck and shoulders so the headache is eliminated quickly.  If you already have Treat Yourself to Pain Free Living,  you can self-treat all your neck and shoulder muscles to release the tension.

How To Choose The Right Pillow If You Sleep On Your Stomach

If you sleep on your stomach, this is the one position that is so bad that it behooves you to force yourself to change your position. Your head is turned to the side and held still for hours, putting a severe strain on all your cervical and upper thoracic vertebrae. Not only will this cause headaches, tinnitus, and a list of other pains, but it can cause problems down your entire spine. It can also impinge on the nerves that pass through the vertebrae on their way to your organs.

If you do sleep that way, let me know and I’ll give you some suggestions that work to change your habit of sleeping. It takes time and energy, but the results are worth the effort.

In every case, the way you sleep may cause neck pain that won’t go away until the pillow situation is resolved.

Now you should know how to choose the right pillow for the way you sleep.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

About The Author

julie donnelly

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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