Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and/or wrist. Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome are given a range of options to treat this debilitating health issue. But what happens when the traditional splint, injection therapy and anti-inflammatory agents provide little relief?
Hint: I’ve got three amazing natural treatments to tell you about!
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a gradually progressing condition that occurs when the nerves in the wrist become compressed due to swelling and inflamed tendons within the carpal tunnel.
Patients regularly complain of pain and numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand, and more specifically, in the thumb and first finger. This can make it difficult to grip objects and perform other simple task.
CTS affects women approximately three times more than men which may be due to the shift in hormone levels during pregnancy and menopause. In addition, women have smaller wrist bones, which makes the carpal tunnel naturally smaller to begin with. While CTS usually develops after the age of 30, the greatest risk is seen between the ages of 45 to 54. This is where we see the connection between declining hormone, menopause and CTS.
If you suspect that you have developed CTS, see a doctor immediately. It is important to diagnose and treat CTS promptly to reduce the possibility of permanent nerve damage.
What is the Carpal Tunnel?
To put it simply, the carpal tunnel is designed to be a shield. As described by the Mayo Clinic, it is a small passageway that protects the median nerve in your wrist. It also protects nine different tendons that are used to make the fingers bend. When the median nerve is subjected to too much pressure, numbness and tingling arise.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Most people think that typing is the leading cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, this isn’t true. According to NHS Choices, carpal tunnel is more likely to affect people who perform strenuous activities than those who type for a living. However, there are also many people who acquire this syndrome that do not work.
Researchers have found that a number of health conditions can play a part in the development of CTS. These can include: hormonal changes associated with menopause (leaving women much more susceptible to this syndrome), diabetes, excess weight, rheumatoid arthritis, and underactive thyroid (all good reasons to get your hormone levels checked). In addition, activities that stress the wrist, wrist injury, abnormal wrist structure, family history and pregnancy can contribute to the risk of developing CTS.
If you’re seeing few results from traditional treatments for CTS, check out these three alternative options.
1. Vitamin B6
Research on vitamin B6 and CTS is astounding. In fact, Prevention magazine reports that some experts claim that up to 90 percent of cases of CTS can be quelled with the use of this vitamin. But why?
According to Ryan-Harshman and Aldoori (2007), vitamin B6 is very important when it comes to the metabolic pathways of neural function. Remember that CTS is a condition associated with compression of the medial nerve. If you don’t have enough B6, you could potentially have problems with nerve conduction.
There is other research that backs this concept up. For example, Life Extension magazine reports that one study concluded that four patients who displayed vitamin B6 deficiency and took supplements for at least three months showed improvement in symptoms. The team later conducted another study in which all seven study subjects displayed insufficient levels of vitamin B6. When daily supplementation of 100-150 mg of B6 was given for two and a half to three months, symptoms improved greatly in comparison to research using placebos.
Give vitamin B6 a try. Just remember to choose a pharmaceutical-grade vitamin. Vitamins aren’t all the same, so you owe it to yourself to consume the best possible product on the market.
As it turns out, the benefits of yoga extend far beyond stress relief. According to the Mayo Clinic, specific yoga postures may be useful in the treatment of CTS. This is because yoga postures can build strength, stretch the muscles, and balance the joints. The combination of these factors could potentially improve symptoms.
This is particularly true when it comes to improving grip strength. A randomized, single-blind controlled trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that patients who participated in a yoga-based regimen showed a greater improvement in symptoms than those who were given wrist splints. In addition, the patients reported greater pain reduction.
Your best bet is to find a reputable yoga class in your area. Ask your friends which instructors they prefer. An experienced teacher can show you exactly which yoga postures will be beneficial for you.
3. Cupping Therapy
According to a press release issued by the American Pain Society, researchers from Germany have found that cupping can help to reduce pain associated with CTS. Cupping therapy is a healing method used in China, India, Arabia, Central Europe, and Africa. The technique is said to boost microcirculation in order to improve symptoms.
The study, which was published in The Journal of Pain, involved more than 50 CTS patients who were separated into treatment and control groups. Those in the treatment group participated in wet cupping therapy, which involved the use of cupping glasses and skin punctures using a sterile lancet. Researchers concluded that patients who underwent cupping therapy experienced a “highly significant” decrease in symptoms. Just one treatment improved symptoms for a week.