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Chiropractic Research Review

Chiropractic Management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Standard medical interventions for carpal tunnel syndrome include the prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), injection of steroids into the carpal tunnel, and several forms of surgery.

Recent practice parameters developed by the American Academy of Neurology suggest that conservative approaches may also be effective.

Ninety-one patients reporting wrist pain and sensory motor deficits (confirmed by nerve conduction study and clinical examination) received either medical treatment (ibuprofen and nighttime wrist supports) or chiropractic intervention (manipulation of the upper extremities/spine, ultrasound over the carpal tunnel, and nighttime wrist supports).

Results: No significant differences between medical/chiropractic care were seen after completion of the nine-week treatment program. Both patient groups experienced significant improvement in perceived comfort and function, finger sensation, and overall nerve conduction. Chiropractic interventions may help relieve patients of discomfort and dysfunction while offering long-term, nonsurgical management of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Take Note: Because there were no pretest equivalency criteria established, these results do not necessarily show that chiropractic intervention is as effective as medical treatment of CTS. However, since some patients may be unable to tolerate ibuprofen or other NSAIDs, chiropractic may offer effective alternatives to standard medical intervention.

Davis PT, Hulbert JR, Kassak KM, et al. Comparative efficacy of conservative medical and chiropractic treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome: a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, June 1998;21(5), pp317-26. Reprints: Tel: (800) 638-6423; Fax: (410) 528-8596

Chiropractic Research Review

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