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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Inflammation, Joint disorders | May 27, 2017 | Author: Naturopath


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful disorder that occurs when pressure is placed on the median nerve in the wrist. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness and pain in the hand.

carpal tunnelThe carpal tunnel refers to a small space in the wrist where the median nerve and several other tendons run through to the hand.

The median nerve controls movement and feeling in your thumb and in all fingers, excluding the pinkie and half the ring finger. This pressure can be caused from fluid-retention in pregnancy, repetitive stress or a broken wrist.

Natural therapies and splints can help to reduce pain and inflammation and prevent long-term damage to the nerve.

Carpal tunnel symptoms

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Pins and needles
  • Numbness
  • Pain in the fingers or hand, particularly at night
  • Radiated or referred pain into the arm and shoulder
  • Weakness of the hand

Causes of carpal tunnel

Pressure on the median nerve is what causes carpal tunnel syndrome. This pressure comes from swelling or anything that makes the carpal tunnel narrower. Sometimes an exact cause cannot be identified. In some cases, there is a combination of factors including:

  • Repetitive stress - overuse of the tendons in the carpal tunnel from repetitive movement in the wrist and hand can lead to irritation and inflammation.
  • Pregnancy - the hormones during pregnancy can cause oedema in the wrist leading to compression of the median nerve. After birth, this issue is usually resolved.
  • Congenital factors – some people simply have a smaller carpal tunnel than others.
  • Conditions or illnesses – obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis can all contribute to joint swelling, reduced blood flow and arm pain.

Carpal tunnel is commonly work-related and may be caused by work that requires:

  • Hand-arm vibration
  • Working for long periods in the same awkward position
  • Repetitive or forceful hand movements

If you are experiencing these work-related, repetitive hand/wrist movements and you also have one of the conditions listed above you are at higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Treatment options

The aim of carpal tunnel syndrome is to start treatment as soon as possible to prevent long-term complications and damage to the nerve. This can include a combination of natural therapies aimed to reduce pain and inflammation, protect the median nerve and reduce fluid in the area.

Anti-inflammatory diet

Foods that promote inflammation such as sugar, refined carbohydrates and fried foods should be avoided.
Foods that reduce inflammation in the body include fresh fruit, vegetables and foods high in omega-3, including linseeds, chia seeds, fish, nuts and seeds. Consider avoiding nightshade family vegetables which includes capsicum, white potato, tomatoes and eggplant. Some people have found they respond dramatically when their diet is free of these foods. Following a low sodium diet may also be helpful in combating fluid retention in the wrist.
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Acute home-care

Symptoms that are mild can be treated at home. Firstly, it is recommended that you discontinue the repetitive activities that are causing numbness and pain. Resting your wrist between activities that do cause discomfort is a good idea.

carpal tunnel splintWearing a splint at night can help take the pressure off the median nerve—many people find this method very helpful. It’s also ideal to warm-up and stretch regularly before commencing any strenuous activity.

Ice packs can be applied to the area to help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Ice for 15 minutes at a time with breaks in between.

Alpha lipoic acid and GLA

Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant, well known for its protective effect on the myelin sheath and nerves. The myelin sheath is a covering that wraps around the nerve, just like the plastic covering around electrical cables. A study published in the European review for medical and pharmacological sciences journal found alpha lipoic acid when combined with gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) caused a significant reduction in both symptoms scores and functional impairment. They concluded that this combination of nutrients is a useful tool for controlling the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and decreasing its progression to a more severe state, especially if taken in the early stages.

B vitamins

In this same study, an improvement was also found in the group taking a B vitamin preparation consisting of B6, B1 and B12. Although, the results were not as significant as the alpha lipoic acid and GLA group, there was still marked improvement in the participant’s symptoms. There have also been studies just on supplementation with vitamin B6. A 2013 study published in the advanced pharmaceutical bulletin found that B6 treated patients had reduced pain during the day and at night—reducing the average times the person woke-up at night. There was also reduced hand numbness, weakness and tingling and an increase in hand strength when handling objects. Other sensory tests performed on the median nerve had also improved

Herbal medicine

carpal tunnel anti-inflammatoryCurcumin, a constituent extracted from turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory properties and can significantly reduce pain and inflammation. 

Although it is yet to be proven helpful for sufferers of carpal tunnel it has been demonstrated effective for a variety of other inflammatory disorders such as arthritis. 

Curcumin can be combined with other anti-inflammatory herbs such as boswellia, ginger and white willow. 

Herbs that support nerve health include St John’s wort and Jamaica dogwood, the latter is specifically indicated for people with nerve pain. 

Herbal diuretics could also be useful in removing some of the fluid in the wrist and includes dandelion leaf, celery seed and stonebreaker.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Talebi M, et al. Effect of vitamin b6 on clinical symptoms and electro diagnostic results of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Adv Pharm Bull. 2013;3(2):283-8

Di Geronimo G, et al. Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome with alpha-lipoic acid. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2009 Mar-Apr;13(2):133-9

Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituents of curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Jun;14(2):141-53

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