What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Yesterday, a patient came to my Pompano Beach chiropractic clinic complaining of numbness in the hand, which happens especially at night. He works in a factory atmosphere and heavily relies on the use of his hands. He had already self-diagnosed himself with carpal tunnel syndrome. He was hoping that I could somehow help him avoid a surgery to fix the problem since he doesn't have insurance and chiropractors are much more affordable.

Read more: What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is a Pinched Nerve?

Earlier today, a patient came to our Pompano Beach Chiropractic clinic for the first time with what she called a "Pinched Nerve". Her husband was with her, since she was in so much pain that she was afraid to be alone. Today was day two of this excruciating neck pain that was radiating into her left shoulder, arm, forearm, and hand. The slightest movement triggered lightning like spasms and more tears.

For the past two days, this woman has been seeking help. Yesterday, she even had an neck MRI to search for the cause of her pain. She was told she had a bulging disk, but that it shouldn't be causing this much pain.

A little digging into the recent patient history revealed the all too familiar fatal mistake; she has been using heat on the acute pain problem. Heat initially seemed to help ease the pain, but now it seems to be worsening rather than getting better.

I'll get to the rest of this story in a couple minutes. But first, let's discuss what a pinched nerve is.

Pinched Nerves

Pinched Nerve

The diagnosis "Pinched Nerve" is usually given when patients have pain that radiates from the spine into either an arm or leg. The slightest move in the wrong direction seems to pinch the nerve more. A move in the other direction seems to unpinch the involved nerve to some extent. But the reality is, in most cases, the nerve is not acutally "pinched".

The pinched nerve diagnosis is one of those visual names sometimes given by doctors so that the patient has something to understand. It is a lay description of a stretched, impinged, or irritated nerve. The problem with the diagnosis, however, is that the mental image of a pinched nerve is one that is trapped between two bones; kind of like a garden hose trapped under a car tire. But x-rays and MRI's rarely demonstrate bones and herniated discs to be pinching spinal nerves.

Herniated disc material is sometimes demonstrated as approaching or even pressing against the thecal sac, a protective bag that surrounds the spinal cord. But in the hundreds of MRI's I have seen, I have never seen a "pinched nerve". That does not mean that they do not exist. However, anatomically it is very unlikely to occur.

So if the nerve is not pinched, what is causing all of this pain?

The usual "pinched nerve" actually involves an irritated nerve. There is usually some degree of damaged tissue that causes inflammation. Inflammation takes up space and can increase the pressure on the spinal nerves. When heat is added in the form of hot packs or a heating pad, the amount of inflammation can easily increase, which is why heat tends to make the radiating pain worse with "acute" problems.

Over the years I have had many patients that first went to the hospital with their extreme neck and back pains only to be referred by the Emergence Room physicians to the chiropractor. In almost every single case, the patient had a lesser pain problem and put heat on it thinking it would get better. But within a couple hours of applying heat, the pain became unbearable creating the need for an ER visit.

You may be wondering "What can a chiropractor possibly do for such extreme pain... isn't it true that chiropractors can't prescribe anything for the pain?". The answer might surprise you.

I am certain that chiropractors understand these problems and can help patients with these problems better than any other health care professionals out there. That might sound like a pretty bold statement to make. But the reality is, that is what we do.

These problems are almost always caused by a "vertebral subluxation complex". Locating and correcting subluxations is what chiropractors do. It is true that chiropractors do not prescribe medicine. They do not even treat the pain. Chiropractors are more interested in locating and correcting the cause of the problems.

So back to my patient:

In this case, no x-rays were needed. Sometimes we take x-rays and sometimes we don't. Just yesterday, she had an MRI and was told that they didn't see a cause for such pain. If no structural problem was causing it... what was it?

After a brief exam to rule out other possible causes... remember, the pain radiated into the left arm... I had to rule out a heart attack of course. I was able to locate a functional problem that caused the pain. She had a vertebral joint that was inflammed and not funtioning properly. After a little gentle soft tissue work, I was able to give a gentle spot-on osseous adjustment that provided some degree of immediate relief. We then did very gentle specific range of motion exercises to help pump some of that excess inflammation out of the area. We then applied ice packs to vaso-constrict the vessels and minimize any new inflammation to the area.

During a follow up visit later in the day, the patient was doing better. A slightly more agressive specific osseous chiropractic adjustment provided even greater relief. I expect her to be more than 50% better tomorrow.

If you think you have a pinched nerve in your neck or back, make an appointment to see your chiropractor today.

Dr. Michael Haley
Agape Chiropractic
Pompano Beach, Florida 33060
(954) 545-9750

Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain is the number one reason people go to the chiropractor and a very common reason they visit medical doctors. Low back pain ranges from mild stiffness or achyness that causes restlessness to debilitating spasms with sharp or electric like jolts that interfere with the ability to walk or even crawl. Such low back pain attacks often come on without warning in a person who only moments before seemed to have no physical problems.

Low back pain can be due to severe trauma such as sprain or strain from athletic injury or automobile accident. But more commonly, the cause is a lack of proper care and maintenance of a healthy physique. When this is the case, often a minor move such as bending or turning triggers the onset of paralyzing pain.

For someone suffering with even the worst of pain, this is good news. That is, fixing the pain may be as simple as restoring proper function to the spine combined with simple specific range of motion exercises that improve flexibility and joint lubrication. Even severe cases can often be resolved in a few days.

Sometimes low back pain irritates a nerve that runs down the leg. This can cause "radiating pain" often following a path into the buttock, posterior thigh, calf, and even into the foot and toes. Sometimes "pins and needles" or "numbness and tingling" are felt. This condition is usually referred to as "Sciatica".

When the problem involves "radicular" pain or numbness such as this, it is an indication of a more severe problem. However, even radicular problems can usually be resolved conservatively with restoration of function combined with proper stretching and range of motion exercises.

If the low back problem is so severe that is causes loss of body functions such as loss of bowel and bladder control, this is an indication of a more serious problem. "Cauda Equina Syndrome" is rare, however, in the event of such symptoms, emergency medical attention should be sought immediately.

Chiropractors are trained to detect and correct loss of normal spinal function, called "subluxation", and prescribe specific exercises to help encourage and maintain such improvement. Nowadays medical doctors are likely to refer low back problems to the chiropractor given their track record of success.

Dr. Michael Haley has been helping people with low back pain and scitica in the Pompano Beach Fort Laduerdale area since 1996.

Agape Chiropractic
Pompano Beach, Florida 33060
(954) 545-9750

Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of the most common reasons people go to a chiropractor. Sometimes the pain radiates into the shoulders. It can further radiate down the arm and into the hand or fingers. The sensation in the arms and hands is often described as "pins and needles" or "numbness and tingling". At other times the sensation is a heavy achiness. Patients frequently report tension headaches related to their neck pain.

Many people associate neck pain radiating into the left shoulder and arm with heart attack. For this reason, some visit the local Emergency Room with their concerns. Those not sufferring heart related pains are usually referred by the Hospital E.R. doctors to chiropractors for correction of the cause of their symptoms.

When "vertebral subluxation" from the neck causes pain to radiate into the "upper extremities" (arms and hands), the symptoms can usually be altered significantly with a minor change in head position. Tilting the head away from the affected limb usually diminishes the symptoms whereas tilting the head toward the affected limb usually increases the symptoms. Such testing and diagnosis should be performed by a licensed physician.

Since head tilt can affect peoples symptoms in their arms, many people discover their problems during rest or upon waking, since they sleep with their heads in less than optimal postures. When people sleep on the side of the radiating pain, a pillow that is too low can cause the symptoms to increase. When they sleep on the opposite side of the radiating symptoms, a pillow that is too big can increase symptoms. A forward posture or extended posture can also affect the symptoms.

When the head posture is affecting the severity of numbness or radiating arm pain, one should not think that moving the head to a lesser pain posture is the solution. Such a choice will only give the "subluxation" more time to cement making it more difficult to correct.

Radiating symptoms into the extremmities are an indication of a more advanced problem and should be corrected as soon as possible. Chiropractors are trained to detect and correct vertebral subluxation complex, the usual cause of such problems.

Dr. Michael Haley in Pompano Beach has been helping people with vertebral subluxation causing neck pain and radicular symptoms since 1996.

Agape Chiropractic
Pompano Beach, Florida 33060
(954) 545-9750

Car Accidents

Car accidents are a leading cause of whiplash injuries in Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Whiplash results when the head and neck are whipped backward and forward usually from rear impact motor vehicle collisions. Rotational forces add to the injury. Rotational forces are usually caused by the position of the occupants head at the moment of impact. However, they can also be caused by the angle of impact, whether the vehicle was turning on impact, road conditions, vehicle conditions, and many other factors.

Symptoms from whiplash vary and might include headaches, neck pain, back pain, swelling in the neck and back, difficulty swallowing, blurred vision, vertigo, dizziness, jaw pain, throat pain, and more. Someone experiencing symptoms from whiplash should seek evaluation and treatment immdediately.

Whiplash injuries can cause damage to bones, soft tissues, and connective tissues. Damage to the bones can include avulsion fractures and compression fractures. Damage to soft tissues includes stretching and tearing of muscle tissue. Damage to connective tissues are usually the most painful and permanent and include disc injuries, ligament injuries, and fascia injuries.

There are various diagnostic imaging techniques to evaluated the extent of injury. X-rays are a popular choice for evaluating the bones for fracture and alignment. Stress views can give information regarding stability of the spine and possible ligament damage. "MRI is useful in documenting disk herrniations, canal encroachment by osteophytes, tumor, infection, fractures, and posttraumatic ligament ruptures of the lower cervical column."1 In the cases where pre-existing osteoarthritis (degenerative disc disease) is present, "It is inappropriate to ascribe a whiplash-injured patient's chronic neck sympotms to pre-accident degenerative disease (spondylosis)".2

Whiplash injuries can be caused from seemingly low velocity impacts and the injuries themselves can even seem minor at first with pain increasing with time following the collision sometimes not apparent for days, weeks, and in some cases even years later. However, in the latter example, the occupants will likely have have some pain or discomfort from the inury initially, however dismissed it as something that would go away. After the pain is gone, the person forgets about it. However, years later, degeneration from the original injury can cause serious pain and health problems.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision and want to get your spine evaluated for whiplash, contact a local chiropractor today.

Dr. Michael Haley
Agape Chiropractic
Serving Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale
33060, 33062, 33069, & 33334
(954) 545-9750

References:
1. American Journal of Clinical Chiropractic January 2011 pg. 03 Radiological Evaluatrrion of Chronic Neck Pain by Dan Murphy.
2. American Journal of Clinical Chiropractic January 2011 pg. 24 Radiological Evaluatrrion of Chronic Neck Pain by Dan Murphy.pg.

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