Beyond being brilliant, one of the major reasons why humans have been so dominant on earth is the fact that we are bipedal and possess very dextrous upper limbs. Dextrous limbs have provided us with the ability to perform inordinate variations of movements.
Modern workplace duties involve highly repetitious movements. Over time, repetitious movements over stress the structures of the body in use and injury ensues. There are many types of injuries that occur in the upper limbs, especially at the shoulder, elbow and wrist.
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. This type of joint allows for an extreme amount of movement. The trouble that presents with extreme movement of a joint, is ensuring that structural stability is maintained throughout the joints entire range of motion.
Dynamic stability of the shoulder joint is established through a group of four tendons, which collectively are referred to as the rotator cuff. The four components of the rotator cuff are: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor muscles. Injury or strain due to repetitious movements can cause damage to the fibers that make up the tendons of these muscles. If one tendon is injured, and treatment is not received immediately, the three uninjured tendons step up to compensate for their injured companion. In time, they too will start to deteriorate.
In extreme cases, untreated rotator cuff issues develop into a frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder is an extremely painful and debilitating disorder. The secret to avoiding such a condition is early detection and treatment.
Chiropractors are well versed with shoulder conditions. If diagnosis is established early, they have the knowledge and tools to provide relief, restore motion, prescribe exercises and discuss techniques to prevent future occurrences. If you are suffering from a shoulder problem, do yourself a favour and call Dr. Houlgrave. The sooner he can assess you the faster he can get you on the road to recovery.
Unlike the shoulder, the elbow provides substantially less movement due to its structure as a hinge joint. Sports that involve ballistic movements, like baseball, hockey, and golf, produce tremendous stresses on the elbow. In fact, the medical world understands the rigors of these sports and has coined the diagnoses of “Golfer’s Elbow” and “Tennis Elbow.”
These conditions are not exclusive to those that play each respective sport. For instance, it is common for grocery store clerks to develop tennis elbow due to the repetitious movements of scanning grocery items at their till.
Tennis Elbow is the result of overuse of the muscles on the external or lateral side of the elbow. Conversely, Golfer’s Elbow occurs on the internal or medial side of elbow. The mechanism of injury, for both conditions, occurs in the same way as previously mentioned for rotator cuff trauma.
The elbow has a natural “carrying angle” – the angle at which our elbow naturally bends so that it does not rub on our hips. The angle, which averages between 5 and 15 degrees, is typically larger on women to accommodate for wider hips. Injury of the elbow can result in a change of the carrying angle. This change can produce chronic tension and stress in the local muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and can result in Golfer’s or Tennis Elbow.
Soft tissue massage, stretching techniques, modified lifestyle activities, and Chiropractic adjustments can help to restore the natural carrying angle of the elbow and reduce stress on the supporting structures of the elbow. Once again, early treatment corresponds with early recovery. If you are suffering with elbow discomfort, schedule an appointment with Dr. Houlgrave.
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common cause of wrist and/or hand pain. CTS is often accompanied by numbness and tingling and it effects the distribution of the median nerve (the thumb, index, middle, and part of the fourth fingers). The symptoms of CTS are typically worse at night.
In this day and age, most of us associate this condition with excessive use of computer keyboards; however, it can occur with anyone, especially those who uses their hands to operate vibrating equipment or perform repetitive motions.
The carpal tunnel, which is located at the palm side of the wrist, is a narrow passageway created by a “U” shaped layer of eight carpal bones and an overlying ligament (transverse carpal ligament). The median nerve and nine flexor tendons squeeze their way through the tunnel on route to the hand.
Due to the limited diameter of the tunnel, any source of inflammation at the wrist can produce pressure on the nerve. This pressure results in the perception of pain and a decrease in sensation of the hand and fingers. As the condition progresses, one can develop burning, cramping, and weakness of the hand to the point that one begins to drop objects. If left untreated, eventually the muscles of the hand (particularly at the base of the thumb) begin to deteriorate and surgery becomes necessary.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned for CTS, schedule an appointment with Dr. Houlgrave – he can examine your wrist and recommend a course of treatment. If you catch CTS early, chiropractic adjustments, stretching, and lifestyle modifications can be very effective treatment.
Commonly, patients misinterpret referred pain from their neck and spine for shoulder, elbow or wrist pain. If you are suffering from pain in your hand, arm, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee, hip, or spine, be proactive and schedule an appointment with your Comox Chiropractor, Dr. Houlgrave. He will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.