In many cases, the body can naturally recover from disease and 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. Scientists commonly call this 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? In a 2008 study, 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 analyzed objective nerve tests as well as subjective reports from the patients themselves. None of the patients received treatment from any doctor. The results were impressive. Only 23% experienced a worsening of their symptoms, about 29% stayed the same throughout the study, and amazingly, 48% showed recovery. As far as the objective nerve tests were concerned, 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 treatment (such as chiropractic care) may be all that is needed for many patients.
Chiropractic care for the carpal tunnel patient may involve specific adjustments to the wrist and or to areas that supply the nerves to the wrist, such as the neck. In addition, strengthening and stretching exercises can add support to the wrist, especially for 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 vitamin B6.