Conditions & Symptoms

Where does it hurt?

Click on a region of the body diagram to see common conditions and symptoms related to that area.
Illustration: Wrist, Hand & Forearm Conditions
Wrist, Hand & Forearm

Wrist, Hand & Forearm Conditions

The wrist is a joint connecting the lower arm and the hand. Chiropractic can offer care for your wrist, to help alleviate pain and improve function.

Wrist, hand and forearm injuries can be debilitating. Not only because they're painful, but also because of the inconvenience: injure one of these body parts and see how many everyday activities are affected. These parts' close grouping also means that if you injure one, pain or discomfort will likely spread to the other areas as well. Lately, the number of wrist, hand and forearm injuries has been rising. The culprit? Carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries associated with increased use of computers.

To care for wrist, hand and forearm conditions, your chiropractor will first determine the exact source of the pain. He or she can then begin a management plan that may include adjustments, physiotherapeutic modalities, such as ultrasound, soft tissue therapy and perhaps a recommendation for a brace or splint.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) isn't a disorder with a simple cause and a simple cure. Rather, CTS is a set of signs and symptoms relating to a wide-range of problems that involve pain, swelling and inflammation in the hand and forearm.

Those affected by CTS often complain of an aching pain in the upper arm or forearm, accompanied by tingling and numbness or weakness in the thumb, index, middle or ring fingers. Often, the symptoms get more severe at night, causing patients to wake from a deep sleep with a burning sensation in their hand. People with CTS also complain that everyday activities like holding a pen or picking things up become more and more difficult.

CTS develops when there's compression of the median nerve, which runs through a space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. To understand how this happens, imagine wearing a bracelet that's too small for your arm. Such a bracelet would constrict the soft tissues around your wrist, impinging on the carpal tunnel and the median nerve within.

Something similar to a tight bracelet can develop when you perform prolonged activities that involve the hand and forearm, like typing or using hand tools. These activities involve extensive wrist flexion (bending the wrist upward when the palm is facing up, as if you were lifting a table) and wrist extension (bending the wrist upward when the palm is facing down, as if you were waving to someone), which can lead to inflammation in the tendons. Like the bracelet, this inflammation compresses the carpal tunnel.

Even if typing and using hand tools aren't in your day-to-day routine, such inflammation can still affect you. Traditionally, health-care providers considered CTS to be a work-related disorder, with typing and repetitive strain being the main culprits. They now know, however, that factors like pregnancy, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease can also predispose people to swelling in the carpal tunnel, putting them at risk of getting CTS.

If you don't get care for the condition, it can worsen over time. Fortunately, chiropractic care can successfully manage CTS. Your chiropractor can relieve swelling and inflammation, rehabilitate the affected wrist and provide you with advice that can prevent the condition from recurring. Depending on the factors underlying the condition, you may also need to see a medical doctor, in which case your chiropractor can make an appropriate referral.