FHN Complementary Medicine Monthly Newsletter
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel with Cold Laser
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), the most common repetitive-stress injury, is a manifestation of nerve and tissue damage from fast, forceful and seemingly harmless repetitive wrist and hand motions. Repetitive movements can cause inflammation of the tendons that pass through a narrow tunnel in the wrist called the Carpal Tunnel. Those tendons enable the hand to open and close. The median nerve that also passes through the Carpal Tunnel carries impulses from the brain to the fingers. Inflamed tissue in the Carpal Tunnel can squeeze the median nerve, cause significant swelling and debilitating pain. The longer the swelling compresses or pinches the median nerve, the greater the chance that some of the nerve cells will die. When enough nerve cells die, hand muscles deteriorate and lose their ability to grip. CTS sufferers may become permanently disabled if they ignore the symptoms.
Non-surgical treatments for CTS in the past have included immobilization, cold and hot therapy, aspirin, cortisone, infrared heat ultrasound, electrical stimulation, paraffin baths, various types of physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory drugs. In the most severe cases, surgery is performed to enlarge the Carpal Tunnel and repair ligaments. Statistics from the National Center for Health indicate that 2.4 million visits were made to physicians in 1999 because of CTS, of which 1 million were made to orthopedic surgeons.
In February of 2002 the FDA approved the use of COLD ( low level) Laser for the treatment of CTS. Low-level laser therapy is the application of red and near infrared light over injuries or wounds to improve soft tissue healing and relieve both acute and chronic pain. Low-level therapy uses cold (subthermal) laser light energy to direct bio-stimulative light energy to the body's cells without injuring or damaging them in any way. The therapy is precise and accurate; and offers safe and effective treatment for a wide variety of conditions. The energy range of low level laser light is 5mW (milliwatts), while for surgical lasers the energy range lies between 3000 and 10000 mW.
The Physiological Effects of Low Level Laser Therapy
· Improved metabolism
· Increase of cell metabolism
2. Improved blood circulation and vasodilatation
3. Analgesic effect
4. Anti-inflammatory and anti-edematous effects
5. Stimulation of wound healing
6. Relieves acute and chronic pain
7. Increases the speed, quality and tensile strength of tissue repair
8. Stimulates the immune system
9. Stimulates nerve function
10. Develops collagen and muscle tissue
FHN has purchased a Cold Laser for treatment of CTS and other pain syndromes. This therapy is non invasive, painless, and allows the patient to remain at work during the treatment period. Complementary Medicine is currently offering this therapy in their office. (Health works will also be offering this therapy in the near future.)
Drs. Glenn and Julie Smith