Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel in the body is formed from the carpals or the bones and ligaments that form the wrist-scientifically the carpals or the carpus, Greek: karpos. These bones form a unique pathway in the wrist, and which is called the carpal tunnel, taking its name from the bones that constitute it. This tunnel is important to the body because, it is at this place that the median nerve, responsible for controlling movement and sensation in a large part of the hand passes through, in addition to this nerve, many of the tendons that connect the arm and hand muscles also make their way from the region of the forearm into the hand, via this passage. At times the tunnel undergoes a narrowing and is restricted in its area because of many reasons, for example because of a swelling of the ligaments or tendons, because of injuries and accidents that involve bone dislocation, due to the presence and appearance of bone spurs, or due to the retention of excess fluid in the region of the tunnel. When this restriction of the tunnel reaches starts putting pressure and compressing the median nerve, carpal tunnel syndrome is said to have been caused the physical signs include pain, numbness in the affected region, and general weakness.

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The appearance of these symptoms may be sudden or it could also be a gradual process, striking its most painful manifestations at nighttime, it is believed and seen that up to 95% of people who have developed this condition have been awakened from their sleep by the pain. Some of the symptoms may quietly disappear in a matter of days, there are others however that may require medical attention and treatment, and may endure over moths at a time, causing great problems and pain to the person.

The regular and prolonged and repeated movements of the hands may put undue stress on the fingers and hands, carpal tunnel syndrome is simply the sum total of this stress and injury caused by repeated physical work. Therefore in situations that involve a lot of physical activity from the fingers and the hand, for example in people who type a lot or assembly line workers, this syndrome is more likely to make an appearance, carpal tunnel syndrome can also come about in people who do a lot of work even in a leisurely manner using their fingers, such as those who play music and others involved in activities like knitting. Over a period of time, over use of the fingers in repeated and complicated activity, can lead to the inflammation of the tendons or the ligaments; this restricts and compresses the median nerve, thus bringing on the syndrome.

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Other factors can also aggravate the situation if carpal tunnel syndrome is already present, for example things like a fluctuation or change in hormonal balance in the bodies of pregnant women, the use birth control and other contraceptive pills, and in women who are in menopause . All these situations can worsen the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Other situations that can bring on carpal tunnel syndrome include many underlying illnesses such as unidentified diabetes, problems associated with hypothyroidism, Raynaud's disease, and even rheumatoid arthritis, physical accident and trauma to the wrist may also result in carpal tunnel syndrome. As a health risk, it is known that the occurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome, is three times more in women vis-à-vis men and in particular, the likely group that it strikes are women who are primarily overweight, and in the ages between 30 to 60, and who have undergone a period of pregnancy sometime in their life.

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Supplements and herbs

Susceptibility to the numbness and the pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome is possibly increased because of the deficiency of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) in the body, so some studies seem to suggest. Some of the processes and positive benefits that this particular vitamin has inside the body include improving circulation and blood flow, the maintenance of a healthy nervous and nerve tissue and an the promotion of a defense against inflammation. This vitamin B6 has also been linked and possibly it is involved in the promotion of a pain relieving substances, it helps control sensations of pain in the body, the nerve chemical called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). People who take vitamin B6 as a supplement are often unsatisfied even after three weeks on the supplement, if there is no noticeable difference in the condition, it is advisable to shift to another form of pyridoxine, or B6 called pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P), this is the active form of the vitamin inside the body, and it is the eventual destiny of the pyridoxine taken in any form, as it is the product of the break down of vitamin B6. This particular form of the vitamin possibly works better with some people, and many believe that this form helps them more in relieving the symptoms of vitamin B6.

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Other substances such as bromelain, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme abundant in pineapple are also good supplements, this enzyme is very effective in dealing and alleviating the pain that is felt and in treating and lessening the inflammation. Instead of using one of the two supplements pyridoxine and bromelain seem to be more effective together and should preferably be used together. A herd often used in south Asia and in Indian cooking called turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family of plants, has also proven to be effective as a supplement. Turmeric and bromelain support each other very well and seem to boost each others anti-inflammatory functions and analgesic properties, this two taken together are very effective in dealing with the pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Once the symptoms start to fade away, the dosage of turmeric can be halved, even though it is very safe even over the long term, turmeric in tablet form can be quite costly.

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Homeopathy

Many of the homeopathic remedies which have been suggested below are effective in relieving the discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Arnica
    Arnica montana is to be prescribed and used as a remedy against recurrent emergence of inflammation or in cases of new injuries sustained in activities that involve the repetitive use of the fingers and the wrists leading to the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. There is a possibility of cramping in the affected region, and there may be a sensation of the area feeling sore and bruised. This herb arnica can be used as a topical ointment for external application onto the affected area to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome such as the soreness and the swelling in the fingers and the wrist, this remedy made from arnica can also be used concurrently with other substances, especially the ones in tablet form for use in internal medication.
  • Calcarea phos.
    Calcarea phos. is prescribed as a cure for carpal tunnel syndrome in cases where, there is acute pain in the bones and the nerves of the wrists and arms, concurrently there may also be a lot of stiffness and discomfort felt in the region of the neck. The pain and the uncomfortable symptoms seem to be aggravated by a cold ambience and cold drafts. The patient may be weakened and in pain from overwork and mentally the person will appear easily irritable and emotionally very sensitive to things. In the event of the appearance of all these symptoms calcarea phos. must be immediately used as a supplement.
  • Causticum
    Causticum is to be prescribed where there is a tendency for the carpal tunnel syndrome to recur, or where the symptoms of the illness are persistent over a long period of time. The physical sensations felt may include a burning and bruised feeling as if something were drawing the skin apart. The muscles of the arm may feel stiff and the musculature in the hand and the forearm may be contracted and stiff. The symptoms may persist and worsen under cold weather and the patient will feel better when something warm is applied onto the affected region. Cold and rainy weather seems to be preferred by such patients as it makes them feel better.
  • Hypericum
    Hypericum remedy is to be prescribed if the symptoms include sharp and shooting pains that extend out from the area of the wrist, causing discomfort and pain and affecting normal movement. This particular herb is very affective especially when it is used for the treatment of parts of the body that are richly enervated and when it is used to treat injuries that are due to have caused traumatic damage to the nerves, the substance has a soothing and calming affect on the region it is applied on.
  • Rhus tox.
    Rhus tox. is to be prescribed in cases where the symptoms such as pain and stiffness are extremely acute when the person starts to use his or her hand and subside when gradually as movement continues. The other physical signs such affected regions of the body may show are a tendency to stiffen and cramp, an acute pain and soreness through overuse. The pain and other physical signs that are felt in such persons may recede under warm weather and have a tendency to increase or worsen when exposed to damp and cold weather, whenever such signs are experienced by the patient rhus tox. should be prescribed as a homeopathic cure.
  • Ruta
    Ruta is to be used as a homeopathic cure to treat patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and who exhibit signs such as a lot of stiffness in the joints, especially when they are overworked, which is perhaps due to the stress on the nerves in those areas. The symptoms may persist even when adequate rest has been taken and there may be a sensation of being bruised in the area and the person may feel weakened in the wrist. Ruta is to be used in all cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially where the tasks that the patient performs are repetitive and are likely to cause a lot of wear and tear in the joints and in the nerves, this will result in a general weakness along the arms and in the wrists of the person.
  • Viola odorata
    Viola odorata is to be prescribed as a homeopathic cure in all persons with carpal tunnel syndrome who have symptoms of the condition, especially affecting the hand and the wrist, and in many cases especially the right hand. The physical signs of that the patient will have to endure will include a pain and numbness which may be extensive along the hand and the wrist, extending along the fingers of the hands and there may be a trembling in the hands and the arms. In cold weather the symptoms and the pain may be worsen and the person may need something warm to soothe him or her.

Additional things you may do

Avoid repetitive tasks especially those that involve the use of the hands and the fingers, if you are already suffering from the syndrome, these activities include pastimes knitting, work related activities such as typing or even actions such as playing a musical instrument, if these cannot be avoided at all, then it is advisable to take short and frequent breaks during the activity to give the hands and the fingers some time to recuperate. It is recommended that when undergoing repetitive task that may go on for hours, to rest for a short time in order to flex the fingers and hands at least once an hour, not only does this action give the fingers and the hands time to recuperate but it also improves blood flow and relaxes the nerves. The first action that must be followed when there is acute pain is the immediate application of ice or some cold compress to the affected area. Pain and inflammation that sets in on the affected area may be alleviated by cold compresses, for this purpose, you can use a flexible ice pack, or even some substitute such as a bag of frozen peas - this can be applied topically for 10 minutes once every hour or so for relief. Another simple solution is to raise your arms, or elevate their position relative to your body when lying down; this can be done by using pillows.

Usual dosage

  • Turmeric, 400 mg three times daily. Standardized to contain 95% curcumin. Use with bromelain.
  • Bromelain, 1,000 mg two times daily during acute phase. Take between meals. Reduce to 500 mg two times daily when symptoms subside. If ineffective after two weeks, eliminate it.
  • Vitamin B6, 50 mg three times daily until symptoms subside. Overdosing can cause nerve damage.

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