Getting to know your Wrist

The wrist may be a small area of the body, but with such complex movements at this joint, structurally there is quite a lot happening. Did you know for example your wrist and hand together comprise of 27 bones!

Your wrist is made up of eight pebble-like bones called carpals. These articulate with the radius bone, one of the bones of your forearm. On the far end of your wrist, the carpal bones articulate with the five long bones called the metacarpals that make up the palm of your hand. Amongst all these bones, there is a plethora of ligaments that connect the bones in a way which allows intricate movements like adduction, abduction, flexion and extension.

The carpal tunnel is a deep space located in your wrist, bordered by carpal bones and a strong ligament called the transverse carpal ligament on the palm side of your wrist. The median nerve travels through this tunnel along with nine flexor tendons and several blood vessels making it a relatively tight squeeze. Irritation or swelling at the carpal tunnel from repetitive movements or other joint conditions such as arthritis, can cause compression of the median nerve, which in-turn may lead to symptoms of pain, numbness and tingling of the hand, which we commonly refer to as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).

There are also two other nerves that run through the wrist outside the carpal tunnel to the hand. These are the ulnar nerve, which innervates the pinky finger side of the hand and the radial nerve, which innervates the thumb side of the hand. If any of the nerves are malfunctioning, they can cause a number of neuropathies and conditions of the hand. Further injuries of the wrist commonly include tendonitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis,
and fractures.

Treatment options depend on the severity of the symptoms and non-surgical treatment is usually recommended if your symptoms are mild to moderate. There are a number of nonsurgical treatment options available to CTS sufferers, and while massage, exercise and mobilisation of the wrist joint seem to be useful, further studies are needed to support that view. Likewise, there are encouraging, but not convincing results of acupuncture benefits. There are a number of theories on how exercise and mobilisation are effective in reducing the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but the jury is still out. Presently there just isn’t enough research available to provide conclusive findings to support these theories.

As a registered health care professional, providing good patient care is your chiropractor’s primary objective. They will advise on treatment options within the scope of chiropractic care and encourage you to seek information on other treatments available before making a
final decision.

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