In addition to manual therapies and specific exercises to relieve pressure along the course of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist and elsewhere, doctors of chiropractic may utilize other high- and low-tech tools to manage the condition:
- Electric stimulation (e-stim) directs an electric current via electrodes placed on the skin over or near the painful area to either stimulate healing (higher frequencies) or reduce pain (lower frequency).
- Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) uses an electromagnetic field to reduce pain, lower inflammation and muscle spasm, stimulate healing, and facilitate nerve and circulatory function. (Note: This cannot be used in a patient with a pacemaker.)
- Ultrasound uses sound waves that travel at 1-3 million cycles per second to cause cells to vibrate and produce heat leading to an increase in circulation and the stimulation of nerve cells to aid in the healing process. There is no sensation because the speed of the sound waves is far too fast.
- Low level laser therapy (LLLT) uses a specific wavelength of light that penetrates the skin to produce therapeutic effects. The term photobiomodulation is often used to describe its beneficial effects—including accelerated tissue repair—and to reduced pain and inflammation. These devices use less than 0.5 watts and are classified as a class IIIb laser, while those this more than 0.5 watts are class IV lasers, which penetrate deeper.
- Dietary modifications and supplement guidance may be offered since consuming foods/vitamins that reduce inflammation may aid in the healing process (Mediterranean diet, ginger, turmeric, Boswellia, etc.).
- Ice reduces inflammation and is beneficial in the acute stages of CTS. This is most effectively applied by directly massaging the wrist/carpal tunnel with an ice cube. Heat may help in the chronic, less inflamed stages of CTS. Rub- or roll-on analgesics may offer short-term pain-reducing benefits.
How your doctor of chiropractic approaches your care will depend on your patient history and examination/diagnostic findings as well as their clinical experience. The good news is the conservative treatment approaches used by chiropractors are often very effective, but if necessary, your doctor of chiropractic can co-manage your condition with other healthcare providers.