Class IV Low Level laser Treatments For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Low-level laser therapy has been shown to decrease pain and inflammation. Also called cold lasers, they utilize specific wavelengths and frequencies to decrease inflammation within the body by shutting off inflammatory pathways. Injured cells secrete chemical markers that increase the amount of inflammatory cells and swelling.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve becomes compressed or entrapped. One of the most common sites of entrapment is in the carpal tunnel at the wrist. The carpal tunnel is formed between the carpal or wrist bones and the transverse ligament. These structures form a contained space that cannot expand or contract. If the small muscles or tendons within the carpal tunnel become irritated or injured, they begin to secrete these inflammatory chemicals that promote inflammation. Inflammation and fluid accumulates within the carpal tunnel and compresses the soft nerve that travels through the tunnel.
The median nerve controls muscle strength and sensation of the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. Over time, the median nerve function deteriorates and the nerve is unable to repair or heal itself. The greater the compression in the longer the time frame, the more severe the carpal tunnel symptoms become.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome involves decreasing the inflammation and fluid accumulation within the tunnel. Anti-inflammatory medications or injections can be utilized. In addition, lifestyle and activity changes are altered to reduce the stress and strain of the wrist and forearm muscles. Reducing the activity and use of the wrist reduces the strain and promotes healing. Treatments to speed fibroblasts (tissue repair cells) such as Graston Technique or ASTYM compliment active and passive treatments. Therapeutic modalities can be utilized to further reduce the inflammation including heat, ice, electric, stretching, and exercise.
Massage therapy can be utilized to decrease carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms by minimizing muscle spasms in the wrist flexors and extensors. In many patients, overusing the arm has resulted in chronic spasms of the forearm muscles. Muscle spasms cause the carpal tunnel to become jammed, further minimizing its volume in addition to increasing strain on those tendons. By decreasing the muscle spasms and reducing strain on the wrist, patients experience improved healing times and recovery from carpal tunnel.
Cold laser or low-level laser therapy is an excellent treatment modality for patients experiencing pain, weakness, or numbness. As previously mentioned, low-level laser therapy decreases inflammatory chemicals and pathways. Cold laser can be applied to the wrist and forearm muscles that are involved in the syndrome. Additionally, low-level laser therapy enhances nervous cell repair and regeneration in the median nerve, further promoting its recovery.
Patients with moderate or severe carpal tunnel syndrome often require a combination of treatments to resolve their symptoms. Low-level laser therapy is very effective when used by itself or in combination of other treatments to reduce the stress and strain placed upon the arm and hand.