Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is Often Misdiagnosed

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is Often Misdiagnosed

By Curt Redd, LMT

Recently a FaceboCarpal Tunnelok post by Anatomy in Motion appeared discussing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  It was based on an article written by Christian Nordqvist, ” What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? ” in Medical News Today (14 Aug 2013). 

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful, progressive condition that occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed. The nerve may become compressed because it has swollen, the tendons are inflamed, or both.

What appears to be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, often is something else entirely. 

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – Wisdom Conveyed in the Comments Section

Unknown Author*  “In fact, carpal tunnel symptoms, especially in this era of computer-hunched workers, are very likely to be caused by thoracic outlet syndrome, or thoracic-scapular dysfunction. Chronic posture imbalances and inappropriate muscle recruitment result in nerve and artery compression at the thoracic outlet, where the nerves and arteries exit the thorax to the arms. Because nerves cells are very long single cells (nerves are bundles of nerve cells, rather like bundles of ethernet cables), impingement closer to the spine leads to vulnerability and symptoms further down.

“There’s no point in treating for carpal tunnel when the cause is elsewhere. It will only recur. Appropriate treatment for thoracic scapular dysfunction is a long, rigorous course of physical therapy/OT which trains appropriate recruitment of mid-back muscles instead of high-shoulder muscles and neck muscles for arm and shoulder movement.

“If you’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel but have kind of round shoulders and/or a forward head and/or a lot of upper back and postural discomfort, get another opinion from someone who has some better expertise.”

Chad J Carter Weiberg “In my 13 years as a Structural Integration Therapist of all the (dozens) of people who came to me with “diagnosed CTS ” i feel at least 90-95% were miss diagnosed and actually had either Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) or impingement of the Brachial Plexus nerve roots in the lower neck… all of which were treated successfully with bodywork …yep 100% success rate of the supposedly “CTS diagnosis ” without actually working the wrist.
To top it off I had the famous Neurologist Erwin Schlesinger, who self diagnosed himself with CTS admit to me during a massage that he would never get CTS surgery as it is “rarely effective permanently ” so he gets massages … I asked him if anyone had tested him for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome he said ,”no, not necessary as I am a doctor of neurology and I diagnosed myself. ”
When I did my tests i was sure he actually had TOS, I asked if I could do my treatment for TOS and if it was not noticeably effective I would not charge any money for the massage, he consented, 15 min or so into the session he was fully relieved of the “CTS like symptoms ” and actually admitted “you can teach an old dog new tricks! ”
The key is understanding anatomy.”

Sandra Wright “As an osteopath, I have successfully treated patients who have come to me with a previous diagnosis of carpal tunnel. I usually find that TOS is the actual cause. I treat it using a combination of soft tissue and fascial work in the neck, arm, shoulder, upper thorax, hand and wrist, articulation of these joints, and manipulation if necessary and dry needling. Works a treat!”

How can Myofascial Release (MFR) help?

MFR decreases the tightness of the tissues in the chest, neck, and arms to allow the nerves to glide easily and freely to eliminate symptoms.

I have experienced great success, even in the worst cases, by releasing the tension in the fascia starting at the neck, and following down into the chest, shoulder, upper back, shoulder girdle, upper arm, elbow and forearm.  I also do a release at the wrist by pressing outward on the carpal bones to open up the tunnel area.

Find out more about MFR at, or


Anatomy In Motion – What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? by Medical News Today

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?  By Christian Nordqvist.  Copyright: Medical News Today

*Unknown Author:  When I went back to search for the name of this contributor, the comment was no longer available.

 Article Synopsis

The article goes on to describe from a medical perspective the symptoms, possible causes,  tests for diagnosis, and options for treatment.  Self treatment recommendations included; ice packs, splints, rest, and refraining from repetitive movements.  It states that “Most patients with mild symptoms will notice an improvement in their symptoms within four weeks.”  Medications included steroid injection, and anti-inflammatory drugs.  Of course surgery was listed as an effective cure only about 50% of the time.