Nerves form an electrical pathway that connects the central processing unit of the body ( the brain ) to various organs such as the heart and kidneys, and also to the muscles and the largest organ in the body, our skin.
Some of these nerves carry control signals from the brain to the various organs, muscles etc:
?Heart..beat faster, we?re running and need to increase blood flow????
?Adrenal Gland?..produce more adreneline?.that dog is running after us?.
?Biceps muscle?..contract???Triceps muscle?.expand?.we?re going to pick up a can of soda?
Some nerves are capable of sending feedback information to the brain, while others can send pain signals back to the brain.
PAIN IS THE BODY?S WAY OF TELLING YOU THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG. PERIOD.
T-shirts with the expression ?Pain is weakness leaving the body? are often seen in gyms and military bases. That expression is highly misleading, and may even be dangerous. During intensive training, soldiers are expected to experience some discomfort, but by ignoring severe pain, extreme damage can be done to the body. Some of that damage may not show up until years later.
Think of an electrical chord running from a wall socket at one side of the room to a table lamp on the other side. The chord passes underneath an easy chair, a sofa, another easy chair, a small table, and finally to the lamp.
Suddenly, the lamp begins to flicker. After determining that the socket is functioning normally, and the lamp bulb is OK, as well as the lamp, you decide that the electrical cable must have a problem. Rather than imagining that the cable itself has started to disintegrate on it?s own ( possible, but unlikely ), you come to the conclusion that something must be pressing against the cable ( nerve ). You now systematically check whether the easy chair, the sofa, the other easy chair, or the small table are trapping the chord.
This is the way that it should be when doctors check our arms and legs and backs for pain, but sadly, is seldom the case. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Carpal Tunnel syndrome. I had this for some time. The pain I experienced from my spinal injuries was so bad that my hands contracted like claws. I had shooting pains up and down my arms and all over my hands. The doctors wanted to operate on me. Instead, I went back to see the therapist who got me walking again, and he showed me what was really going on:
We mentioned that when a muscle is overused from deliberate exercise at the gym, or overuse at work, or is forcefully contracted as per my case, it becomes shorter and fatter.
A nerve called the MEDIAN NERVE ( MN ) travels from the brain, down the shoulder and arm and through a narrow tunnel in the wrist called the CARPAL TUNNEL and into the hand. Just like our table lamp analogy, it acts like an electrical cable, with a scource ( the brain ) and a destination ( the hand ). A ligament known as the TRANVERSE CARPAL LIGAMENT ( Transverse just means ?across?, as in across the wrist ) acts as the roof of the tunnel.
Doctors tell us that the median nerve gets pressed against the ligament, and most will recommend surgery if the pain does not go away over time, after steriods etc.
With regards to Carpal Tunnel, doctors rarely ask ?Why has this occurred on person X, but not on person Y ??
Put your hands out, palms up facing you. Now, without moving your arms, bend your wrists gently towards you. For most people who work with computers regularly, you will probably see at least one tendon ?sticking out?. Some of the muscles on the bottom of our forearms connect to these tendons. Think how often we grasp things every day?..cups, doorknobs,pens, computer mice etc. Think how often we move our hands the opposite way??in other words moving the fingers away from our palms in the opposite direction ? The answer is most likely ?Rarely or never?. Many of these muscles are almost permanently contracted.
When a muscle is over used, it becomes shorter and fatter. This also happens with tendons. The effect is much less than with muscles, but is still there. This fact is overlooked by a huge number of doctors.
Could it be that overworked, shorter, fatter tendons could be pressing against the medial nerve and in turn pressing it against the Transverse Carpal Ligament ?
That was certainly the case for me. Once we restored the tight restricted muscles and tendons back to their original size, all the pain disappeared. No surgery required. The two therapists who originally treated me ( Al Meilus and Aaron Mattes ) have saved thousands from Carpal Tunnel Surgery. For some who elect to get the surgery, it often fails ( as symptom rather than cause is being addressed ). The ligament can only be cut one or two times before it?s structural integrity weakens, then it?s a lifetime of painkillers. Al and Aaron work with many of these people, and show them the real causes of their pain.
It?s not over yet. The entrance point to the wrist at the Carpal Tunnel is usually the main culprit, but nerves can REFER pain from a distance away. It is possible for a ?blockage? or entrapment to occur at almost any point from the brain to the wrist, just as it was with the table lamp. There are several common blockage points, but only a handful of therapists know to locate them, and even fewer know how to treat them.
Robert Smith is well known in bowling circles as one of the most powerful bowlers in the world. Several years ago, his career nearly collapsed as he was unable to even lift a bowling ball, far less throw one. He went to see all the ?experts? and went through all the traditional treatments to no avail. Someone suggested he go and see my therapist. He went reluctantly. Within one morning, not only was his bowling speed restored, all pain was gone.
Al analyzed the nerve path and found there was an entrapment under his armpit ( remember the electrical cable for the lamp?.it could be trapped under any piece of furniture ). The muscle responsible is called the SUBSCAPULARIS ( ?SUB? means under, and ?SCAPULARIS? refers to the ?SCAPULA? or shoulderblade?hence, the muscle is under the shoulder blade ). This very important muscle plays a major role in rotator cuff injuries ( very common among IT personnel ). It is not well understood by many therapists, and many can?t even treat it, due to it?s ?awkward to reach? location.
If you have Carpal Tunnel, and are looking at surgery, that is of course a personal decision. If it was me ( as it was ! ) I would try everything else out there first.
In the next post, we?ll put everything together and see just how damaging prolonged computer/laptop/PDA use can be, if corrective measures are not put in place.