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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a relatively common nerve problem that occurs when the median nerve gets pinched as it runs through your wrist. It’s so easy for this to happen because there’s a limited amount of space in the bone “tunnel” that the nerve travels through, yet it shares that space with a whole bunch of tendons, so if there’s any swelling, the nerve can get crowded and irritated. But no matter how many people you’ve known who have this problem, you should always consult with a professional, such as your doctor or chiropractor, rather than simply treating this problem yourself. Here’s why.

1. It can be easy to mistake other problems for carpal tunnel

If you’re not a medical professional, you may have a hard time differentiating between the signs of carpal tunnel syndrome and those of some similar problem. For example, there are other nerves that go through your wrist as well. One of these, the ulnar nerve, can provide symptoms similar to carpal tunnel if compressed, but affecting only the ring and pinkie fingers. This can be caused by a compression of the ulnar nerve at either the wrist or the elbow. And some carpal tunnel symptoms, such as pain and tingling in the fingers, could be caused by some type of neuropathy instead of by carpal tunnel, so it’s best to have a professional diagnosis.

2. Some treatments must be customized to your injury in order to be effective

Sometimes a chiropractor or physical therapist may recommend that you do a type of exercise known as “nerve flossing” or “nerve glides” to help keep your nerve from getting “stuck” (okay, that’s a bit of an oversimplification). The problem is that doing these exercises too vigorously or too often can simply irritate your nerve further, so you need to use these glides under professional guidance according to what your nerve can handle rather than simply self-prescribing.

3. There may be an underlying cause that’s much more serious

Carpal tunnel syndrome does have a genetic component, so if other people in your family (especially your mother) have it, you’re more likely to get it as well. But it can also be precipitated (or at least the odds of getting it can be increased) if you’re pregnant or have a serious condition such as diabetes. If you go to your GP or chiropractor when you get carpal tunnel, you’ll have a better chance of having any underlying cause diagnosed as well.

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