How does wrist splinting help with back problems? Carpal tunnel Syndrome and DDD


Q: My husband has just been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and had a cervical and lumbar CT done to confirm this and a thoracic x-ray which has not came in yet. He originally went in for a bad shoulder and was told only the small ligaments were working the arm, my doctor diagnosed this by arm range of movement, no xrays etc. He was sent to a back specialist, then a pain management doctor. They sent him for a nerve conduction test which came out with some irregular impulses,not sure where. The treatment they chose is carparal tunnel wrist splints to rest the nerves? I do not understand why they splint his wrists to releive back problems? Wouldn't this just help with the numbness and tingling in his hands? Why didn't they splint his shoulder or back ? I feel he is seeing a bunch of quack doctors. Would you be able to explain to me how wrist splints help the back? We have been going back and forth to these 3 doctors for months with no results.My husband is currently out of work and we need answers soon.My husbands profession is an overhead welder and he lifts heavy,this is what caused the problem in the first place. Thank you for your time!!


A:   By the imaging studies your husband got diagnosed with a Degenerative disc disease, which requires physical therapy and anti inflammatory medication as a conservative treatment approach initially,and maybe after performed the electro diagnostic study it came out positive also for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) which is an entrapment of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel at the level of the wrist. Usual symptoms include numbness, tingling, and pain in the wrist and hand. The conservative treatment includes first of all a work-site ergonomic assessment may help to reduce potentially exacerbating factors, in the case of your husband, he should use an ergonomic keyboard and modify all the postures or activities that reproduce the pain. The use of a wrist-hand brace that sets the wrist joint in neutral position (to be worn at nighttime for a minimum of 3-4 weeks) many off-the-shelf wrist splints seem to work well. A specific stretching/strengthening program for the hand and wrist may be useful in improving strength and dexterity. The use of anti inflammatory medications (i.e.: “Aleve”) may be of benefit to control de pain. Lack of aerobic exercise (along with increased Body Mass Index) is a risk factor for the development of CTS and should be addressed. Overuse of legal drugs (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, alcohol) can contribute to CTS and should therefore be reduced. Most individuals with mild-to-moderate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) respond to conservative treatment, the local corticosteroid injection may be considered in those cases that show poor improvement with the conservative treatment (although injection rarely is used in practice).Your husband as a patient has the right to ask the doctor to explain him in detail about his 2 conditions.

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