Case Histories

Case Histories

Repetitive Stress Disorders

A couple of years ago, a new patient (I will call him Gerry) came into our office complaining of frequent, intense pain in both hands. He was a computer programmer and spent most of his day working at a computer terminal. He told me that his pain had been going on for a year and a half and that he was currently seeing a hand specialist. He wanted to know if I could help him.

Hand pain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and Repetitive Stress Disorders, are affecting many working people today, and they are a significant health concern. As with many conditions that have a slow, non-event related onset, there are several different perspectives on the root cause of the conditions, and consequently, approaches to dealing with them differ. The chiropractic perspective on the cause and treatment of many of these problems follows logically from the chiropractic model of health. The health and well being of an individual is greatly affected by interference to the nervous system (the communication system of the body) caused by subluxations (misalignments) of the vertebra. Correction of the vertebral subluxations removes the interference and allows the body to function more optimally. Subluxations can also occur to shoulders, elbows, wrists, and other joints in the extremities.

When examining a person with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and Repetitive Stress Disorders, a chiropractor first looks at the alignment of the spine, paying particular attention to the vertebra in the neck and upper back since that is where the nerves to the arms originate. Typically, there is a significant, long standing subluxation pattern in the mid and/or upper cervical spine (neck) that is present when someone is having hand problems. Those subluxations are typically aggravated by postural or ergonomic (work posture) stressors which will evoke symptoms.

In his case history, Gerry reported that 9 years before, he had been a passenger in a car that rolled over 3 times. He also reported that he was minimally injured, and that his injuries cleared up without any treatment. When I took x-rays of his neck, they showed that Gerry had 2 healed compression fractures of the vertebrae in his neck and upper back, and as a consequence, there was beginning degeneration in the neck. Clearly there had been significant trauma that created long standing subluxations in his neck and upper back. I also found subluxations of both shoulders, elbows, and wrists, but the primary problem was his neck and upper back. Gerry pursued a course of chiropractic care, and experienced immediate change in his strength and physical endurance while working. After 6 months of care, he was stable and able to live his life without any restriction, including regular exercise and sports activities.

The above case history illustrates two important points. First, that even though he was "OK" after the car accident, his lack of symptoms did not mean that he was healthy. The second point is that the hand problems he had were essentially coming from interference to his nerves in the neck that supply the hands. In this case, the chiropractic perspective was very effective in determining the root cause of the problem, and addressing it successfully.