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Carpal Tunnel : Conservative Care Research

Let’s talk Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel is a disease that impairs the function of the nerves of the hand through compression in the wrist. Specifically, a location called the carpal tunnel, where a lot of stuff happens to travel through. This condition affects between 5 and 10% of the population, particularly more in those who work with their hands and do a lot of small repetitive motions (think : keyboard typing all day).


Conservative care is similar in outcome effectiveness to surgery.

One of the accepted standards for treating this in the past has been a surgical procedure called a Carpal Tunnel Release. Classically, this is done by cutting some of the ligamentous tissue that creates the roof of the tunnel, thereby creating more space for the nerves and blood vessels underneath. However, surgery for this is not the only option. The newest research shows that when it comes to treatment, conservative (non-surgical) care is similar in outcome effectiveness (including pain relief, function, sensation, and strength) to surgery at 3 and 12 month follow up.


So what is conservative care for carpal tunnel? It includes carefully introducing movement, mobilization of the joints of the wrist and hand , nerve flossing for the wrist and arm, and kinesiology taping of the wrist and hand to help with pain and pressure reduction. All of these treatments have been shown in the current research to improve the condition, and others previously have shown effectiveness with strengthening and stretching exercises for the forearm and wrist (though those studies are not referenced in this article).


Overall, this research suggests that as part of a comprehensive care plan and conservative approach for Carpal Tunnel, movement (and rehab), nerve flossing, and taping (like Rocktape) may be able to get you the same results and relief as surgery.

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Dr. Paul Harris holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Texas Chiropractic College and a Master’s of Exercise and Health Sciences from University of Houston Clear Lake. He is the owner of Delta V Chiropractic and Sports Medicine and an avid human movement specialist. 

Original Article and research compiled by Dr. Tim Bertelsman with ChiroUp here.

Qiyun S. Et al. Comparison of the short-term and Long-term effects of surgery and non surgical intervention in treating carpal tunnel syndrome: a systematic review and meta analysis. Hand. 2018 Jul.
Bueno-Garcia, Elena et al. Dimensional changes of the carpal tunnel and median nerve during manual mobilization of the carpal bones - anatomical study. Clinical biomechanics, volume 59, 56-61.
Wolny T et al. Is manual therapy based on neurodynamic techniques effective in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome? A randomized controlled trial. Clin Rehabil. 2018 Oct.
Akturk S et al. Comparison of splinting and Kinesio taping in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: a prospective randomized study. Clin Rheumatol. 2018 Jun 15