Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition which occurs with repetitive motions of the wrist, usually arising from excessive computer use. It is caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand. This nerve controls all sensations on the palm side of the thumb and fingers, along with controlling the movements of them. The carpal tunnel is a passage at the base of the hand, made from bone and ligament, which houses the median nerve and associated tendons. When the tendons become enlarged by inflammation, the tunnel diameter is no longer adequate. This causes the median nerve to become pinched. This results in pain, weakness and numbness in the fingers, wrist, hand, and occasionally the forearm. In particularly bad cases, the sufferer may have trouble making a fist and picking up small objects.
The medical establishment often uses steroids, splints, and even surgery to eliminate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, there are problems with all of these strategies. Steroids cause endless problems, especially when taken perpetually. They cause type 2 diabetes. While a splint is a good solution for a broken bone, using it for muscle and nerve problems results in weakened muscles, which thereby increases the chance of a relapse. Surgery is always a dangerous option, because human error by the surgeon can result in a complete crippling of the hand, which is surprisingly common.
Alternative medicine usually deals with the causes of conditions, but carpal tunnel is a special case. Most people cannot stop the repetitive activities that cause this condition, because these activities are usually a job requirement. However, there are things that make recurrence less likely. If the cause of carpal tunnel is computer-related, using a mouse mat and a keyboard wrist rest can help substantially. These should be used by all regular computer users, because they have been documented to prevent carpal tunnel. Ergonomic vertical mice may also be used to reduce strain on the wrist, because such mice do not require the hand to be tilted in a strenuous manner. Some people experience dramatic improvement from this change alone.
- Cherry Extract. Cherries are known for their ability to reduce inflammation. Cherry extract is very useful in reducing all carpal tunnel symptoms. We have learned not to underestimate the power of concentrated cherry extract supplements, which can be found at herbal and health food stores.
- Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine). Over the past 30 years, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the use of B-6 for carpal tunnel syndrome. Some studies have shown it to be very effective, whilst others show no difference between it and a placebo. When studies are cast aside, the Internet is full of people who are using vitamin B-6 to effectively treat their carpal tunnel. It is difficult to get enough B-6 through diet, for it is known to dissipate through cooking, it decomposes in long-term storage, and in the case of flour, it is removed by modern milling practices.
- Devil's Claw. A 2003 study showed that Devil's Claw extract is more effective for treating lower back pain than pharmaceutical Vioxx. Devil's Claw is known for its pain-relieving properties, and is therefore used for carpal tunnel treatment, as well as arthritis. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
- Alpha lipoic acid. Although it is a relatively new supplement, alpha lipoic acid has already gained a reputation for healing nerve damage. Alpha lipoic acid may be helpful in healing the median nerve in those with carpal tunnel, which would also eliminate the pain. It should not be confused with alpha linolinic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, which is also commonly abbreviated as A.L.A.
These tips should help you to eliminate the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome, and prevent a recurrence in some cases. Prevention is always better than cure. We strongly recommend that you try these suggestions before a drastic approach, such as steroids or surgery, which could have permanent consequences.