Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Most people have heard of carpal tunnel syndrome. What you might not know is that carpal tunnel syndrome is only one of a family of ailments in the upper limbs known as entrapment neuropathies. The other entrapment neuropathies are not as well-known in the mainstream as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), so often those who suffer from nerve symptoms in their forearms and hands frequently jump to conclusions without having an accurate diagnosis.

An entrapment neuropathy, also called nerve compression syndrome, occurs when a nerve is wedged or “pinched” against a bone, inflamed muscle. Aside from the median nerve (the one associated with CTS) there are two main nerves that help to control your arm and hand: the radial nerve and the ulnar nerve. Both are susceptible to compression, and the results can be painful!

Entrapment occurs under a number of conditions, most commonly:

  • When there is an injury originating at your neck or a disease of the cervical spine
  • When your elbow has been injured due to fractures or improper use
  • When your wrist has been injured due to fractures or Guyon canal alignment problems
  • An aneurysm or thrombosis in your arteries
  • Factors commonly associated with peripheral neuropathy, such as diabetes, rheumatism, alcoholism, or infection

Your radial nerve runs the length of your arm, and is responsible for both movement and sensation. Radial neuropathy usually occurs at the back of the elbow, and can present itself with many of the common symptoms of neuropathy such as tingling, loss of sensation, weakness and reduced muscle control (in this case, often difficulty in turning your palm upwards with your elbow extended).

A number of palsies affect the radial nerve, such as:

  • Saturday night palsy (also called Honeymooner’s palsy), where your radial nerve is compressed in your upper arm by falling asleep in a position where pressure is exerted on it by either furniture or a bed partner
  • Crutch palsy, where your nerve is pinched by poorly-fitted axillary crutches
  • Handcuff neuropathy, wherein tight handcuffs compress your radial nerve at your wrists

Two main conditions affect the ulnar nerve: Guyon’s canal syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome. Guyon’s canal syndrome is almost exactly the same in symptoms as carpal tunnel syndrome (pain and tingling in the palm and first three fingers), but involves a completely different nerve. Guyon’s canal syndrome is caused by pressure on your wrists, often by resting them at a desk or workstation, and is frequently experienced by cyclists due to pressure from the handlebars.

Nearly everyone has experienced cubital tunnel syndrome: it’s the “dead arm” sensation we’ve all felt when we wake up after sleeping on top of our arm! Sleeping with your arm folded up compresses the ulnar nerve at your shoulder, causing it to effectively “cut off” feeling to your arm. As you probably know from experience, this sensation is unsettling but temporary.

Diagnosis for all compression neuropathies is fairly consistent: We’ll examine your arms for signs of neuropathy, and will likely ask you to perform several demonstrations of dexterity.  If we suspect you may have an underlying condition,lab tests may be recommended. To pinpoint the specific location of a compression, we may also suggest MRI.

Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, most cases of compression neuropathy are mild. Good self care for mild cases involves ice, rest, and a change in habits of motion or stress that are causing the symptoms. Otherwise, professional care in office as well as at home is often indicated.

If you suffer from a compression neuropathy or have questions about this or any other kind of neuropathy, call us ASAP. As with any neuropathy, don’t wait! The sooner you get an accurate diagnosis, the more conservative options for treatment you’ll have.

Join the conversation at Beating Neuropathy!

References:

http://www.mdguidelines.com/neuropathy-of-radial-nerve-entrapment
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1285531-overview
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1244885-overview
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2599973/?tool=pmcentrez

Entrapment Neuropathy: More Than Just Carpal Tunnel! is a post from: Neuropathy | Neuropathy Doctors | Neuropathy Treatment | Neuropathy Treatments | Neuropathy Physical Therapists

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Zinc and Your Health

As you know, zinc is a metal. It is used in a process applied to preserve metals from corrosion, especially in salt water. This of course is called galvanization. But what you may not know is that zinc also plays a large role in your health, especially neurologic and immune system-related issues.

Zinc and Your Health

Like so many nutrients, balance is everything. Too much zinc will suppress the immune system and cause difficulties with copper levels. Too little zinc can create problems ranging from memory impairment to prostate disease.

Yes, neurologic dysfunction can result when zinc is deficient. According to Hambridge et al in 2007 in “Zinc deficiency a special challenge”, it is stated that zinc is an element with “profound biologic significance”. In fact, zinc deficiencies worldwide are responsible for many disease states.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that zinc imbalances are relatively common. This is due both to low levels in foods of modern agriculture as well as elevated levels of copper due to plumbing and environmental sources.

In the clinic, we will measure hair and blood levels of these crucial elements when assessing nutrition status.

In our bodies, zinc can actually act as an antioxidant. This protects us against damage from environmental assaults, as well as natural aging. The presence of zinc is essential for normal nerve function.

It is well-known that zinc can speed the healing process and, in essential amounts, will help stimulate the immune system and possibly prevent prostate disease.

When zinc is used in shampoos and skin lotions, it can act as a sunscreen, a soothing dressing, and also help prevent dandruff.

The reason that zinc is so important is that it participates in many chemical reactions, especially in enzymes.

The recommended dietary allowance for zinc is around 15 mg per day. However modern diets alone sometimes fall short of this.

The good news is, the neuropathy diet that we recommend is high in nuts and seeds which provide relatively good zinc levels. Seafood, shellfish in particular, can be great sources of dietary zinc.

For most patients, safe zinc supplementation level is probably not more than 25 mg per day. More than 50 mg a day could be detrimental. Like so many nutrients, this is one area where working with your neuropathy healthcare professionals is essential if there are any questions at all about appropriate zinc dosages.

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

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Laser Therapy and Neuropathy

It could be that laser therapy is the “missing link” in some forms of neuropathy treatment!

Laser therapy has been used in medicine for many years. They’ve been around since about 1960 or so when a now famous scientist produced these “focused light beams” in the laboratory.

These ultra focused light beams can be used at high intensity to seal tissue and aid surgeons, dentists, and dermatologists in their daily work with patients. At lower intensity, they have had applications in physical therapy and neuropathy treatment for some time too.

Now, lasers are everywhere, everything from CD Players, printers and measuring devices to military weapons. I’m sure you may even have seen a few of your own!

So what does laser have to do with neuropathy treatment?

Well, it could be that laser therapy is the “missing link” in some forms of neuropathy treatment!

As we discuss together frequently, no neuropathy treatment works 100 percent of the time. And that is a key point to remember. We also have talked about effective neuropathy treatment being the result of working only with highly trained neuropathy treatment professionals.

And nowhere is this more apparent than in laser treatments for neuropathy. Even amongst laser neuropathy treatment experts there’s often disagreement as to what makes good neuropathy treatment.

But some techniques in laser neuropathy treatment equipment are looking very promising!

One of our basic attempts when treating neuropathy is to do whatever can help safely and effectively boost your nerve cells use of “energy”.

Along with proper nutrition and electrotherapy, laser may aid energy production in damaged nerves.

The way this may happen is fascinating, but way beyond the scope of this column.

But the good news is more experience and research including our own will help us find even better neuropathy treatments than we have available today!

Always remember though, we go to great lengths every day to be sure our highly trained neuropathy treatment professionals are up to date in the latest, and best forms of neuropathy treatment for you and your family!

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

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