An estimated 8 million people are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome every year. Symptoms usually start gradually and include burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers.
Medications and surgery are often prescribed, but often have poor outcomes. For this reason, I recommend natural remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are some of the most effective ways to treat carpal tunnel:
If your carpal tunnel syndrome is due to an injury where a bone is in the wrong place, the bone needs to be moved back into proper alignment. This can easily and painlessly be accomplished by a competent chiropractor or osteopath trained in adjusting the wrist.
Once the bone has been adjusted and is in its proper position, you should wear a properly designed wrist brace to hold everything in place while your wrist heals. (See below for more information on braces.)
Vitamin B6 and Manganese
This common vitamin and trace mineral have been shown to help heal and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. The way in which vitamin B6 helps relieve the nerve pressure associated with carpal tunnel syndrome is not fully understood; however, it does help the nervous system function properly.
The addition of manganese (not magnesium) can help speed the tightening of the wrist ligament, which is especially helpful when healing from an acute injury. Both vitamin B6 and manganese can be found in high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplements. Make sure the one you select contains at least 100 mg of B6 and 5 mg of manganese, and take it daily.
Low Reactive-Level Light Therapy
Low reactive-level light therapy (LLLT) involves a device that delivers light energy (in the form of photons) to cells and organs more than an inch below the skin. These photons stimulate healing in damaged cells. LLLT has been found to be an extremely effective natural treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.
In the Far East, it is common knowledge that living cells emit a form of energy or life force (also known as chi or qi). For hundreds of years, acupuncturists have treated all kinds of diseases by balancing and harmonizing this energy. When a group of cells are functioning in harmony, they emit photons at the same wavelength and rhythm. When there is damage or disease, this harmony is lost.
What makes this energy even more interesting is the fact that it conforms to two laws of physics: sympathetic resonance and harmonic inductance. You’ve probably seen these laws demonstrated with tuning forks. After you strike a tuning fork, other tuning forks in close proximity will begin to vibrate at the same frequency and give off the same sound. In much the same way, diseased tissue or unbalanced groups of cells in your body can be brought back into harmony when exposed to the proper wavelength of energy.
The Microlight 830 laser unit is the LLLT device that I most highly recommend because it is the first one given FDA clearance for the nonsurgical treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.
One to two tablespoons of lecithin granules a day can help eliminate the pain and numbness associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. I like the granular form of lecithin, which is a simple, tasty way to get sufficient amounts of this essential nutrient. Although I like the nutty taste, it's difficult to just swallow the granules. It's easier to mix the granules with juice or another beverage and drink it or sprinkle it on cereal. Also, be sure to keep the granules in the refrigerator to avoid problems with rancidity.
A properly designed brace can also be effective remedy for carpal tunnel syndrome-related pain because it will help limit further aggravation to the median nerve. The best braces have a metal stay that runs along the back of your hand and wrist. These braces can be purchased at most drugstores; however, the best brace I have ever seen or used was made for bowlers and sold at the equipment shop of a bowling alley. The bowling brace was built much better and actually cost no more than the drugstore variety.
When using a brace for carpal tunnel syndrome, it should be worn 24 hours a day for about two weeks. Then, if your problem was caused by an injury, you can remove it. If your case is related to repetitive motion, it is best to continue wearing the brace whenever your wrist is under stress.
Strengthening the many muscles that support the wrist can greatly decrease your chances of future carpal tunnel syndrome problems; however, wait until your injury has healed or your doctor gives the okay.
The best exercise for the forearms and wrists uses some common inexpensive "equipment" you can find around your house:
- A one gallon plastic milk jug
- About 4 feet of strong cord or rope
- A wooden stick or dowel about 18 inches long and 1 to 1½ inches in diameter (like an old broom stick)
Tie one end of the rope to the milk jug handle, and after drilling a hole through the center of the dowel, thread the other end of the rope through the hole and tie a knot. To begin the exercise, pour about a pint (16 oz.) of water into the milk jug. Hold the dowel directly out in front of your stomach with your elbows bent at 90° and to your sides. (Your forearm should be parallel to the floor.) Now slowly—without bending your wrists backward—roll the stick in one direction and raise the milk jug to the stick, then slowly unroll the rope from the stick to lower the jug.
Repeat this exercise five to 10 times each day, depending on the strength of your wrists. As it becomes easier, gradually add more water to the jug one cup at a time. Don’t extend or bend your wrist backwards during the exercise. Try to use as little wrist motion as possible. If you find it difficult to keep your wrists from moving too much, use less water and do fewer repetitions.