(NaturalNews) Some structures in the body, for example nerves and ligaments, go through tunnels. One such busy tunnel is the carpal tunnel, through which a nerve, ligaments and blood vessels travel through the wrist and to the fingers. A healthy carpal tunnel has ample room. But repetitive use of the hands and wrists, for example through typing, knitting, carpentry and handling cash registers, can cause tissue inflammation which then compresses the median nerve, resulting in weakness, pain when gripping, plus burning, aching or tingling. These sensations could radiate to the forearm and shoulder. What can those with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) do?
Protect the wrists
The most commonsensical thing to do is simply rest the wrists. Try to keep the hands warm, as pain and stiffness are more likely when they are cold.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic suggested relaxing the grip and using tools with wider grips. Cutting and slicing with knives tend to be problematic, so these activities should be avoided or at least minimized whenever possible.
Vitamin B6 deficiency has been found to be common among CTS sufferers. Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies conducted at the University of Texas also found that vitamin B6 was useful with treating hundreds of patients with the condition, although positive outcome could take as long as three months.
James Balch, MD, and Mark Stengler, ND, recommended 100mg thrice daily; they also suggested taking a B-complex to prevent B-vitamin imbalance.
Flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, which lowers prostaglandin levels in the body (prostaglandins contribute to inflammation). They also contain lignans, whose antioxidant properties can help neutralize free radicals; this is useful because inflammation leads to the production of high amounts of free radicals, which themselves worsen inflammation.
Jack Carter, PhD, who was professor emeritus of plant science at North Dakota State University in Fargo and president of the Flax Institute, suggested that consuming 25-30g of ground flaxseed or 1-3 tablespoons of flaxseed oil could be helpful in alleviating symptoms.
Balch and Stengler suggested that 500mg of bromelain thrice daily between meals could help reduce inflammation.
According to them, white willow standardized to contain 240mg of salicin daily (or 5ml of tincture thrice daily) helps alleviate pain and inflammation, while 120mg of ginkgo biloba standardized to 24 percent flavone glycosides twice daily helps boost circulation.
Calcium and magnesium
A complex with 500mg calcium and 250mg magnesium taken twice daily would help alleviate muscle tightness and nerve irritation.
Dr. Murray's protocol
Michael Murray, ND, recommended the following supplemental protocol:
• Vitamin C - 500-1000mg thrice daily • Vitamin E - 200-400IU daily • Vitamin B6 - 50-100mg daily • Flaxseed oil - 1 to 2 tablespoons daily • A high-potency multi-supplement
One study found that people who took a lot of the artificial sweetener aspartame developed CTS symptoms. Significantly, after ceasing intake, their symptoms faded within a fortnight, although no changes to physical work habits were made.
Research by Peter Nathan, MD, a hand surgeon and carpal tunnel researcher at the Portland Hand Surgery and Rehabilitation Center, revealed that overweight persons were at higher risk of CTS than cashiers, typists and others whose jobs required extensive use of the hands and wrists. According to him, "heavy people have a tendency to accumulate more fluid in the soft tissues, including in the wrist." The additional fluids put extra pressure on the nerve, while also restricting its oxygen supply.
Exercise would be useful as it not only helps with weight loss, it also helped relieve CTS symptoms such as pain, tightness and clumsiness, as revealed in research by Dr. Nathan.
Sources for this article include:
Murray, Michael T., ND. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements: The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 1996. Print.
Yeager, Selene, et al. The Doctors Book of Food Remedies. New York, NY: Rodale, 2007. Print.
Balch, James F., MD, and Stengler, Mark, ND. Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet and Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Bodywork, and More. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2004. Print.
About the author: Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth.