New Thoughts on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The surprising common factor amongst CTS sufferers appears to be a history of lung trauma.

The full origins of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) have remained enigmatic to the medical profession. Treatment results have been too inconsistent to accept the theory that the median nerve is being compressed only at the wrist. New information and conservative treatment techniques may be solving at least a piece of this debilitating problem.

Researchers have found the incidence of CTS is not significantly different between people who use keyboards, perform active labour, or are stay at home parents. The surprising common factor amongst CTS sufferers appears to be a history of lung trauma.

Automobile accidents, broken ribs, radiation, pneumonia and other traumas often heal in ways that limit the lung’s natural mobility. Adhesions within the lung tissue itself, or adhesions between the lung and the chest wall, the lung and the heart, or the lung and the diaphragm can put strain on anything the lung attaches to.

The suspensory ligaments for the lung attach to the lower neck vertebrae (bones) and are in close relationship with the spinal nerves. When the effect of a lung adhesion is a downward pull on the lung’s supporting tissues then the nerves and arteries travelling from the neck to the arm can be affected. Detailed anatomy study has helped show that a downward pull on the chest cage can compress the vessels between the lung’s suspensory ligaments and the collarbone or the first rib.

Nerves do not tolerate compression well, as compression quickly diminishes the blood supply to the nerve and interferes with or stops the flow of nutrients and materials along its length. Nerves do not like tension (stretch) either. They are normally mobile and are meant to slide relative to the tissues that lie next to them. A limitation of nerve glide, such as with an adhesion or compression, makes the nerve less capable of accommodating other forces.

Releasing lung restrictions with gentle manual techniques has been extremely effective in freeing the nerve compression at the neck and eliminating carpal tunnel symptoms in early to mid stages. This is especially true when combined with other techniques and exercises that restore the glide of the nerve along its entire length.

The good news is that the gentle methods for using hands to mobilize delicate tissues are becoming better known. Practitioners of Visceral Manipulation and Cranial-Sacral Therapy are exceptionally good at this, as well as at finding other “missing pieces” to pain and mobility problems.

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