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Friday, 2 September 2011

Peas and Carrots: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and A Stiff Neck

 An article[1] in the The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) recently discussed a possible new hallmark of carpal tunnel syndrome – a stiff neck. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition in which a nerve in the wrist is compressed, causing symptoms of numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand.  It can cause considerable pain and debility in the hand and many patients complain of it waking them at night or causing them to drop objects.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is most commonly thought to be caused by compression of the median nerve within the “carpal tunnel” in the wrist.  Or so we think.   In the JOSPT article, neck mobility was assessed in women with CTS and a second healthy group.   The research showed that women with CTS had less neck mobility, essentially a stiff neck, compared to the healthy counterparts.  The research also discussed previous studies that also found the presence of abnormal posture, arthritis, spinal stenosis, and pain in the neck and shoulder in individuals with CTS.   Apparently, CTS and conditions of the neck hang out well together like peas and carrots.  Hmmm.  One of my patients made a relevant comment this week, “You mean one part of the body is connected to another?!”

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