In a lot of cases, the body can naturally recover from any disease or injury. Although doctors have their place, it is really the wisdom of the body that does the heavy lifting. Chiropractic doctors especially, recognize this healing capacity: the body needs no help, just no interference. They refer to it as Innate or inborn intelligence. Others may revere it as Mother Nature. Scientists commonly call it homeostasis and when diseases heal over time it is called natural history or taking nature’s course.
So what is the natural history of carpal tunnel syndrome? How will one fare over time? Recently, researchers looked into this question by studying 132 carpal tunnel syndrome patients over an average of two years (Ortiz-Corredor F, Enriquez F, Diaz-Ruiz J, Calambas N. Natural evolution of carpal tunnel syndrome in untreated patients. Clin Neurophysiol 2008;119(6):1373-8.). They studied objective nerve tests as well as patient reports of symptoms. None of the patients received treatment from any doctors. The results were impressive, only 23% had a worsening of their symptoms. About 29% stayed the same throughout the study. Amazingly, 48% showed recovery. As far as the objective nerve tests, 8% got worse, 67% remained constant and 25% improved.
This study speaks to the incredible power of the body to heal itself and the researchers concluded that conservative treatments therefore, may be all that is needed for many patients. Of course, conservative treatments in medicine can range from doing nothing at all, to rest, to prescription drugs and bracing.
Chiropractic care will involve specific adjustments for the wrist and or the areas that supply the nerves to the wrist, such as the neck. When a problem in the nerve is caused by compression at both the wrist and neck, it is called double-crush syndrome. In addition, strengthening and stretching exercises can add support to the wrist, especially in long term sufferers who may have used excessive bracing, which can produce weakness. Most patients will benefit from a comprehensive approach. Even nutritional adjuncts can benefit some patients, such as taking B6. However, over the long term, taking excessive quantities of vitamin B6 can cause problems for some patients. Being overweight is also an important risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as for many other diseases.