When people hear the term carpal tunnel syndrome, many generally think of typists, factory workers, and other people who have to perform repetitive tasks with their hands. And while it is often classified as a “repetitive use” injury, it can also be caused by sudden trauma, such as in a car accident. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) from a car accident is referred to as acute CTS or traumatic CTS.

CTS can range from mild to debilitating and can cause significant adverse ramifications for accident victims. Insurers often argue claims of this nature, so claimants will need substantial medical documentation to support their case. If you have developed acute CTS after a car accident in Oregon or Washington state, schedule an appointment at Accident Care Chiropractic and Massage to discuss your treatment options.

What exactly is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is the small space along the wrist that houses the median nerve, blood vessels, and several flexor tendons that run from the forearm to the palm of the hand. CTS is a condition that arises out of damage to and pressure around the carpal tunnel.

In a car accident, if the structures in the forearm, wrist, and hands such as the nerves, tendons, and muscles sustain damage and become inflamed, the wrist can swell and compress the median nerve, causing CTS. The damage commonly occurs when people brace themselves or tense up and grip the steering wheel just before impact. The impact with the steering wheel and excess force and tension on the wrist area winds up causing damage to the soft tissues.

Symptoms of CTS can include the following:

Aching pain
Tingling
Burning
Itching
Numbness
Weakness in the hands
Reduced grip strength and a tendency to drop things

You may not feel the symptoms of CTS right away; damage to the carpal tunnel can take a while to manifest. On the other hand, you may also notice symptoms straightaway. It is important to seek chiropractic attention immediately after an accident, and thereafter as you experience additional pain, discomfort, and/or limited mobility in your back, neck, or extremities.

What are the effects of CTS?
The symptoms of CTS may come and go, and worsen over time if not treated. Many people find their condition worsens at night, waking them up and causing restlessness, which in turn can contribute to sleep deprivation and persistent grogginess. With numbness and reduced grip strength, it can make daily tasks difficult to perform. It can be impossible to work if your hands are not functioning correctly. Even brushing your hair or teeth can become difficult.

If you suspect that you are developing CTS, you will want to address your concerns with your chiropractic doctor. Your doctor will give you an exam, review your history, and likely order several types of diagnostic tests to see what types of internal damage your wrist may have, as well as to rule out any other conditions.

Depending upon the severity and persistence of your injuries, the following are conservative or invasive treatments for CTS:

Avoiding excess strain to the area and any activities that aggravate your symptoms
Cold packs
Wrist splinting
Kinesio Taping
Physical Therapy

Some patients find relief with additional measures, such as acupuncture and ultrasound therapy.