Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment with Chiropractic Care in New York City 

It’s common for people who believe they have carpal tunnel syndrome to not actually have carpal tunnel, per se.   Research has shown in most cases the carpal tunnel symptoms are due primarily to subluxations (spinal misalignment) of the upper back and neck region. With a few chiropractic adjustments, people experiencing carpal tunnel symptoms are back to their daily routines — free of pain, no invasive surgeries needed.  So whether you indeed have carpal tunnel syndrome or more accurately spinal subluxations – I can resolve your pain with a few therapeutic Craniosacral Therapy sessions.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a rigid narrow passageway of bones, tendons and ligaments at the base of the hand that houses the median nerve.  The Median nerve, involved in moving fingers,  starts in the neck, runs through the shoulder, to the arm, forearm, and down to the wrist and into the hand.  

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder resulting from irritation or pressure applied to the median nerve, often creating a tingling, sometimes painful, and  numbness in the hand, wrist, and occasionally, in the forearm.  Those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome might find themselves having difficulty with anything involving grip, wrist, hand or finger dexterity.  

Any inflammation in the carpal tunnel region of the wrist causes pressure on the median nerve by narrowing the carpal tunnel and compressing the median nerve.  It’s also been proven the median nerve is more vulnerable to being irritated at the wrist (or carpal tunnel) if it is also irritated at the neck from where it originates. When the median nerve is irritated at both the neck and wrist it is referred to as a double crush injury or double crush syndrome.   Hence most people experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome learn that what’s more accurately afflicting them is “double crush syndrome” or having their median nerve compressed at 2 distinct points, the wrist and commonly the neck. 

Research in the prestigious Lancet Medical Journal indicates double crush injury or syndrome is one of the most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome with 70% of the patients treated having nerve irritation in the neck.   Other research has shown 89% of those with carpal tunnel syndrome also had arthritis in the neck.  Thus it is essential in treating carpal tunnel syndrome to indeed treat the wrist region but to also treat any cervical problems (nerve irritation, arthritis, or compression in the neck).   

Thus ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’ should not be assumed to mean the problem originates and or is isolated to the carpal tunnel or the region of the wrist.  While there may be issues at the wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome is more complex than that and more times than not indicates that somewhere along the Meridian nerve path from the neck to the wrist, the  Median nerve is being compressed (in addition to being compressed at the wrist).

Generally there are 5 potential points of compression :

  1. Neck (by far the Nerve Roots are the most common)
  2. Thoracic Outlet
  3. Shoulder
  4. Elbow
  5. Wrist

What are symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Symptoms surface gradually, with tingling in the fingers or frequent numbness, particularly the thumb, index and middle fingers. Some people coping with carpal tunnel syndrome report their fingers feel unusable and swollen, despite there being no swelling at all. The symptoms tend to first appear in the hands,  one or both, during the course of the night when sleeping. The dominant hand is often the first hand affected and experiences the most severe symptoms. 

A person coping with carpal tunnel syndrome may wake from sleep feeling the need to “shake” the wrist or hand. As symptoms worsen, a tingling feeling during the day may set in, particularly when using the hands in reading a book, talking on the phone, or driving and holding the steering wheel.  Weakness in hands may make it difficult to grasp, clutch or perform other manual tasks like using a pair of scissors.

What are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually the result of a combination of factors all increasing pressure on the tendons and median nerve, rather than there being a problem with the median nerve itself.   Contributing factors include: 

  • problems in the spine which can arise from poor posture and muscle tension to arthritis, disc bulges, or spinal misalignments, also referred to as subluxations.
  • injury or physical trauma to the wrist causing it to swell, such as spraining or fracturing your wrist 
  • heredity/genetics, as the carpal tunnel may be smaller, naturally in some people, or there may be differences, anatomically, that change the amount of space for the nerve.
  • repetitive hand and wrist motions or activities over an extended period of time can aggravate tendons in the wrist producing swelling that results in pressure on the nerve (typing or using vibrating hand tools).
  • wrist & hand position intensive activities involving extreme flexion or extension of the wrist and hand for an extended period of time can produce added pressure on the nerve.
  • an underactive thyroid gland; an overactive pituitary gland; and rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, gout, obesity, or the presence of a tumor or cyst in the canal.
  • fluid retention during menopause or pregnancy (hormonal imbalance)

While numerous factors are involved in the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, double crush injury or double crush syndrome (the compression of the median nerve in two places, see research) is involved more often than not – which means a subluxation exists somewhere along the Median nerve. 

The causes of subluxation vary and can be anything from trauma (impact from falls, accidents, etc) to micro-traumas that happen daily that take their toll over time.  Micro-traumas include habits like wearing a purse or bag on one side of your body, poor posture when sitting, looking downward at a computer screen for extended periods of time, even wearing shoes with high heels, these examples can all over time induce trauma to the spine and contribute to spinal subluxations.

Also stay mindful your body is one biosystem containing both natural and artificial chemicals.  A healthy chemical balance results in your body achieving homeostasis or a state of balance with all body systems functioning correctly. However, take in too many toxins, pollutants, or artificial chemicals and that balance can be thrown off, causing muscles to contract and lead to subluxations of the spine.  Even stressful thoughts can produce tension in your neck and upper back, causing muscles to become tight and resultings in subluxations on the spine.  Our nerves are highly interconnected and if muscles significantly contract or become weak, subluxations can occur without any physical impact on your body whatsoever.  

Researchers have discovered that for patients who have received surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, oftentimes the surgery is ineffective and the person still has pain. The most common reason the surgery has been ineffective is the presence of double crush syndrome where compression on the Median nerve remained but was higher up from the wrist (at elbow, shoulder, or neck) along the Median pathway yet affecting the wrist, hand, and fingers (source & source). 

Chiropractic for carpal tunnel syndrome

While carpal tunnel syndrome treatments include everything from drugs to surgery, chiropractic presents an effective and safer alternative that achieves enduring relief of symptoms.  Though multiple things can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, the underlying issue and cause involves the median nerve. Chiropractic care reduces the swelling of the carpal tunnel housing the median nerve, minimizes interference on the nerve, promotes blood flow —and works toward restoring proper function to the carpal tunnel region. 

In treating you, your first appointment will involve learning about your medical history including a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and physical functionality.   After a comprehensive assessment together we’ll develop a customized carpal tunnel treatment plan that is designed to address the underlying cause(s) of your specific conditions.  Your chiropractic treatment plan may include the following modalities:

  • Soft tissue therapies: If trigger points (hard knots in the muscle) are contributing to your symptoms, I can perform soft tissue therapies to release those trigger points.
  • Spinal manipulation: Subluxations (misalignments of the spine’s vertebrae) can cause symptoms of the arm, wrist, and hand.  I can perform spinal manipulation to gently realign the vertebrae and relieve pressure on the nerve.
  • Arm manipulation: If your carpal tunnel syndrome is primarily the result of problems in the wrist or arm itself,  I can gently manipulate these body parts to eliminate the pressure on the median nerve.
  • Therapeutic stretches and exercises: These help improve the function of your wrist and support the health of the median nerve. I  will demonstrate the stretches and exercises for you, and offer recommendations for doing them yourself at home. 
  • Craniosacral therapy, a hands-on technique of applying gentle touch to release tension in the central nervous system.  With inflammation or repetitive strain the connective tissues (ligaments, tendons & layers of fascia) start sticking together, become distorted, and over time harden restricting range of motion and often accompanied by weakness and chronic pain in the fingers, the hand, and the wrist. Craniosacral therapy helps the body to release any connective tissue restrictions in the tendons, ligaments, and fascia, to help eliminate pain, and restore function and strength to the wrist.

With respect to subluxations discovered at any of the 5 potential points of compression on the Median nerve, manual targeted chiropractic adjustments will restore alignment and reduce wrist pain and dysfunction without ever actually directly manipulating or otherwise treating the wrists. 

You have a left and right median nerve — one for each side of the body and in the case of carpal tunnel, the Median nerve on each side of your body connects to C5 thru C8 cervical vertebrae and the T1 thoracic vertebra in the upper spine and neck area (between the 2 red arrows below).

As per the research cited, most carpal tunnel sufferers have subluxations compressing the Median nerve in this region of the neck and when pressure is relieved in the neck, it can relieve the carpal tunnel symptoms you’re experiencing in your arms and hands.  

Studies have concluded that chiropractic care can bring relief from carpal tunnel symptoms.  Both studies involve chiropractic manipulations applied 3 times per week for 4 wks, to the subject’s spine, elbow & wrist.

Study 1

Study 2

Thus controlled amounts of pressure are gently applied to manipulate subluxations (displaced or dislodged vertebrae) wherever they’re discovered along the pathway of the Median nerve, back into their original positions. In some cases, manual adjustments can also be applied directly at the wrist, hands, elbows, and shoulder.  These gentle adjustments alleviate compression of the median nerve in a safe, gradual and natural way often producing noticeable improvements after each chiropractic session. 

Recovery time from carpal tunnel syndrome can be a few short weeks or perhaps months.  How quickly you recover depends on how early you receive treatment once you sense you are dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome.  I have extensive experience in thoroughly assessing and safely managing Median nerve compression, be it exclusively carpal tunnel syndrome or double crush syndrome.   I use an array of treatment techniques to ensure you are receiving the best care possible tailored to your specific needs.   If you’re concerned about your wellness, please give me a call  at (212) 328-1180 and enjoy a free discovery call consultation.


About Dr. Kaminsky & Craniosacral Therapy

Dr. Kaminsky is a 1999 graduate of the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic. He is licensed to practice in NY and has completed close to three thousand hours of professional continuing education since becoming licensed in March of 2000.

The primary approach used in his office is Craniosacral Therapy (CST) which is a method focusing on the cranium (head) and sacrum (a large bone at the base of the spine) scientifically proven to control life sustaining fluid flow throughout the body.

Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle, non-invasive, hands-on manual therapy approach that brings about healing via the fluidity of the body. The existence of the Craniosacral System was first discovered by Osteopath Dr. William Sutherland in the early 1900’s, calling it Cranial Osteopathy.  And later rediscovered, validated, and developed by Dr. John Upledger in the late 70’s early 80’s, who renamed it Craniosacral Therapy after doing five years of research at the Michigan State University, School of Medicine. In 1983 Dr. John, as he was fondly called, established a teaching institute in Palm Beach, Florida, to teach this cranial sacral method to all healthcare providers. The Upledger Institute is still very active today.

The craniosacral mechanism pumps fluid which is produced in the brain, called cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF), through the fascial network of the body, the purpose of which is to lubricate joints, muscles, organs, all cells and all tissues. It is the driving life force for your body’s systems to function properly, CSF also carries healing properties to bodily traumas, injuries and past surgeries.

The proper function of your cranial sacral mechanism, via CSF flow, maintains the normal tone of your muscles, provide nutrients to your organs, and keeps you out of pain. It sustains human life and allows your nervous system to stay responsive to challenges of daily living and your mind-body life experiences. The better your craniosacral mechanism functions, the better the flow of this life sustaining fluid, the better your body can handle physical and emotional stress. The uninhibited flow of this fluid throughout your body allows you to thrive, opposite of survival mode.

CSF is part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) brain and spinal cord), which is physically encapsulated within the dural membranes of the spine and head.

One of the functions inside of your brain is to automatically generate energetic rhythmic impulses that function to pump CSF throughout your body, regulating your peripheral nerves, nervous system and organ systems, which in turn, sustain your function (physiology) and life. It is an important force that maintains everything functioning in your body. This is what we call the Craniosacral System, or Craniosacral Mechanism. It is the hydraulic, energetic and rejuvenating system of your body.

This measurable life force of moving fluid is palpable to a trained craniosacral therapist, like the heart rhythm, pulse rhythm, breathing rate, that can all be felt, so too can the Cranial Sacral Rhythm (CSR) be palpated and measured. It is the foundational diagnostic tool in real-time used to evaluate your current state of well-being (or lack thereof), and potential for health improvement and healing.

Compromises of your rhythmic impulse, correlates to CSF flow restrictions in the system which the body is unable to self-correct or overcome on its own. This is the reason why over time we develop pain, dis-ease, symptoms, conditions, mind-body disconnect and basically all human physical and psychological ailments.

When the fluid isn’t flowing optimally, your bodily rejuvenation is affected, and this is where the skill of an experienced craniosacral therapist becomes valuable. By placing his or her hands on your body, most commonly on your head and sacrum, for diagnostic purposes, the practitioner can detect, feel, evaluate, and rate the SSQAR (strength, symmetry, quality, amplitude, rate) of the rhythm; then bring forth correction of any limitations with subsequent experienced hand placements on different parts the body during a session.

A craniosacral therapist helps your rhythm reset, restore and renew allowing for healing to take place of the mind-body connection, musculoskeletal tightness and spasms, neurological deficits, autoimmune issues, organ function, many common conditions, and of course pain. Through a practitioners properly focused and attuned touch, your body is facilitated to release channels of fluid stagnation and flow restriction, which ultimately breakthrough, overcome and improve CSR and the function of vital fluid flow.

Dr. Alex Kaminsky is an advanced practitioner of Craniosacral therapy, having studied up to advanced levels including SER and pediatric courses. He has built a solid foundation with many years of experience, treating babies, children and adults.

To learn more, visit the other pages on this website. Call to schedule your appointment with Dr. Kaminsky.