Do you have carpal tunnel syndrome? Did you know that a LOT of cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be helped by strengthening the shoulder and shoulder blade?
Think of the shoulder blade as the “core” of the associated arm. The shoulder blade is that arm’s only attachment to the rest of the body and the center of where that arm’s stability should come from. Unfortunately, we tend to have weak shoulder blade muscles because we are notorious for doing everything in front of us, and have tight fronts with weak backs.
So how does this relate to carpal tunnel syndrome?
If the shoulder blade muscles are weak there is a lack of stabilization of that entire arm. Think of a game of Jenga… without a strong base, the risk of toppling increases significantly. Without a strong and stable shoulder blade, the rest of the arm is at risk for “falling apart” anywhere along the chain. Essentially, what happens is that muscles that aren’t meant to stabilize now try to both stabilize the arm and function in their normal capacities. What this means is that without a stable shoulder blade, all the other muscles of the arm are likely working in overdrive to both add stability to the extremity and perform their own duties.
Now let’s take a look at the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is just that – a tunnel that the median nerve runs through. What happens in carpal tunnel syndrome is that the tunnel, which is comprised of tendons, connective tissue, fascia, etc., starts to close down and put pressure on the median nerve, which leads to inflammation, pain, and numbness in the hand. But WHY did the tunnel close down? What caused the tightness in the tendons, connective tissue, fascia, etc? It is likely that those structures tightened up because they were overworked because the scapular stabilizers weren’t doing their jobs!
How do you fix all of this? You will probably need some sort of manual work to release any restricted fascia, and then work on strengthening those scapular stabilizers and the rotator cuff!
Dr. Alexandra Terpos, DPT