Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) has long been recognized as an occupational disease, and though the incidence of many other occupational diseases has decreased over time, CTS appears to be becoming more prevalent.
A 2019 study looked at the impact/benefit of wrist-specific exercises and oral enzyme therapy on automotive assembly line workers with CTS (excluding those treated previously or who had a positive history of hormone replacement or current pregnancy, inflammatory joint disease, trauma to the affected hand, polyneuropathy, other relevant conditions).
Participants in the exercise group performed the following exercises at home for nine weeks:
- Deep “push & pull”: Massage the palm-side of the wrist using the thumb from the opposite hand for 30 seconds.
- “Prayer Position”: Place the palms together in front of your chest; press the fingers slowly against each other for five seconds and release for five seconds; press the palms together and then slowly lower the hands toward the floor. Repeat as tolerated, gradually increasing reps.
- Neuromobilization: Stand sideways to a wall; place the palm of the left hand on the wall, fingers pointing back to a “10 o’clock” position. Start with the elbow bent and slowly straighten it while bending the head sideways toward the wall (left). Slowly bend the elbow and bend the neck/head to the right. Repeat six to eight times with each hand.
The enzyme group took oral enzymes (which are known for their anti-inflammatory, anti-edematous, and analgesic effects) that included 2,000 mg pancreatin, 900 mg bromelain, 1,200 mg papain, 480 mg trypsin, 20 mg chymotrypsin, 200 mg amylase, 200 mg lipase, and 1,000 mg of rutin for nine weeks divided into two doses a day.
Compared with a third group that continued their usual activities, participants in both the enzyme and exercise groups reported improvements with their CTS symptoms. Nerve conduction velocity tests also revealed improved function in the median nerve.
Doctors of chiropractic commonly utilize a multi-modal approach when treating CTS, which often include manual therapies, nutritional recommendations, exercises, activity/modifications, and overnight wrist splinting.