Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thoracic Outlet - Often confused with Carpal Tunnel

There is carpal tunnel syndrome and there is thoracic outlet syndrome.  This post is not meant to diagnose, but for informational purposes only.  Everyone experiences different symptoms for each and need a diagnoses from a doctor in order to know for sure what is going on.  Both have some nerve impingement going on.  That can often be caused by tight soft tissues.  Try a massage and see if you experience relief from your symptoms.  When nerves remain impinged, they can become permanently damaged because impinging is the same thing as choking.  They need room to "breathe". 

If you're experiencing a cold feeling on one hand in particular, that could possibly be thoracic outlet symptoms.  There is true thoracic outlet syndrome and there are thoracic outlet symptoms.  True thoracic outlet syndrome can only be diagnosed by a doctor by x ray.  True thoracic outlet syndrome means there is an extra rib and the only thing that can be done about it is surgery to remove the rib.  It is possible to have thoracic outlet symptoms without the extra rib.  If the hand is feeling cold in addition to pain, your circulation is being choked off in addition to some nerves.  This can sometimes be caused by tight soft tissue if there isn't an additional rib.  Try a massage and see if you get relief in your symptoms.

It is important not to ignore symptoms due to the possibility of damage becoming permanent.  A friend of mine who works in physical therapy had a man show up to the clinic that she works at with thoracic outlet.  I don't know if he had the extra rib or not.  Anyway, he waited so long to come in, that they had to turn him away and send him to the surgeon across the hall from the clinic.  Early intervention is vital!

One of my favorite self help tools is a book of stretches by Sharon Butler called:
Product Details

Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Strain Injuries: A Self-Care Program by Sharon J. Butler (Apr 1, 1996)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Purses, Backpacks and Wallets - Nerve Impingment

There are many different everyday lifestyle choices that can lead to pain, nerve impingement and postural distortion.  In the last post, I talked about proper ergonomics, especially when using a computer.  If you haven't read that one yet, here is your opportunity.  Today, I am going to talk about how purses, backpacks and wallets can contribute to nerve impingement and postural distortion.

Purses: Anytime we wear something on one shoulder, especially if it's heavy, can lead to shoulder impingement.  This applies to anything that we wear on one shoulder, so moms and dads, this applies to baby bags as well.  If you're like me, you like to make sure that your purse has enough room in it to fit everything in it that you like to keep handy.  Take a look through your purse.  How much of the stuff that in there do you really need to carry around with you everywhere?  I know when I take the time to look through mine, I find stuff I forgot that I have and don't need.  If you have pain in your neck and shoulder on the same side of your body as your purse, pay attention.  Back pack purses are best.  Even then, you want to watch how much stuff you are carrying around.  This evenly distributes everything on both shoulders.  When you where something on one shoulder, those muscles have to stay in place somehow and they do it by compensating.  Instead of staying in proper alignment, we naturally hunch that shoulder up, otherwise the purse will fall.  Try alternating which shoulder you carry your purse on.  Also, laying the shoulder strap on one shoulder and having the purse hang off of the opposite hip can be less strenuous as well.  Try different positions and see which one works best for you.

Backpacks:  This can apply to kids as well as adult students.  Watch the weight of your backpack.  Do you really need every single book from every subject that you are taking in that backpack at once?  This is tricky for the kids since we all know they have plenty of time to go to their lockers in between classes (sarcasm).  If they have at least one class that is close to their locker, then maybe they can plan ahead by visiting their locker after that class to load and unload.  I have heard parents say that schools don't allow backpacks on wheels, which makes sense for safety purposes.  There is only so much room in those hallways in between classes.  Adult students: We all know that the more advanced the course work, the thicker the books.  Colleges do allow back packs on wheels, so that is one option to consider.  You also have the trunks of your cars if you don't want to carry around all of those books at once.  Last, but not least, make sure that the back pack is worn on both shoulders.  When I was in college, I made the mistake of carrying the whole thing on one shoulder and that caused me a lot of problems.  I can no longer use the lightest bags even with just one book in them.  Same for light purses.  I now use a back pack purse and a back pack on wheels.  Don't be me :)

Wallets: These should be worn in the front pocket.  Yes, you read that correctly.  But what if it's too tight to where it there?  Get pants that fit you better.  Seriously!  Sitting on a wallet in your back pocket over time causes one hip bone to become higher than the other.  You are also sitting on your sciatic nerve.  Look through your wallets.  Do you still need everything that's in there.  Wallets can get pretty thick over a short period of time.  Having one hip higher than the other can cause a leg length different and a lot of pain over time.  The sciatic nerve starts in your rear end, but all of the nerves that go down your legs and into your feet are all connected to the sciatic nerve.  Pain can stay in the hip or it can radiate down the legs and feet.