Often the first symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are ignored by people because they are associated with other medical causes. Some of the most common symptoms involve a tingling or numbness of your hands or wrists.
This can go on for months before sharp pains shoot from your wrist and up your arm because of this progressive condition.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel symptom is an irritation or compression of the median nerve that runs from your forearm to the palm of your hand. This nerve is responsible for the sensations in your thumb and fingers, although not the small finger, of your hand and it also helps control the movements of the muscles of these digits.
The median nerve and tendons sets within the carpal tunnel, which is a narrow passageway made up of ligaments and bones.
The main symptom of this condition is numbness, tingling or burning sensations in the palm of the hand or the fingers and thumb. Even though no swelling occurs with these symptoms, some people with carpal tunnel feel as if their fingers are swollen and they have trouble using them.
As the problem progresses, many people do have issues with decreased hand strength, an inability to grasp smaller objects and trouble performing other manual tasks.
The Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome can have various causes, although one of the most common causes of this condition is the repetitive use of the hand and wrist at work or during leisurely activities. People who work at computers all day long can develop this condition as can factory workers who use vibrating tools for their job.
However, there can be other causes to this condition that puts pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel.
There are several medical causes associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, including a genetic predisposition for the condition due to a smaller than normal carpal tunnel. People with overactive pituitary glands can have carpal tunnel, as well as those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause can cause carpal tunnel symptoms and if you injure your wrist, the syndrome could develop.
Using Natural Remedies for Carpal Tunnel
When you first start noticing carpal tunnel symptoms, you can help ease them by using natural remedies and help keep the condition from progressing. These remedies can include everything from adjusting your desk at work to limiting your use of vibrating tools if you work in construction or a manufacturing job.
In addition, you can wear supportive braces or splints on your wrists to help limit their movements to help keep the condition from getting worse.
You can also help relieve some of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome with home remedies to make yourself more comfortable. One of the main treatments for serious carpal tunnel syndrome cases is surgery, but by using home remedies when you first start to notice symptoms, you can prevent the need to have an operation on the affected wrist.
Some of the common symptoms of carpal tunnel that can be helped with natural remedies are pain in the wrist, numbness and inflammation.
Natural Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Choosing which natural remedies to use for carpal tunnel syndrome will depend on the cause of the condition. However, there are some symptoms that are common to carpal tunnel syndrome no matter the cause, so some natural remedies can always be used to help relieve this condition.
Warm Ups for Wrists
No matter what your job is, before you begin your day, warm up your wrists to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Even if you haven’t experienced symptoms, but you have a job that is hand intensive, you can do this exercises before you begin work and after your breaks to prevent this condition. The exercises are simple and they only take about five minutes to do.
The warm up exercise recommended for preventing carpal tunnel involves extending your wrists and fingers straight out and bending your wrists upwards so it looks like you’re in a hand stand position. Hold the position for a count of five. Next, bring your hands down and relax your wrists and fingers for another count of five.
With your arms still extended straight, tightly close your fists and hold the position for five seconds. While keeping your fists closed, bend both wrists so your fists are pointed down toward the ground and hold the position for a count of five.
Extend your wrists again, but open your hands allow your hands and wrists to relax for a five count. Finally, let your arms hang loosely to your sides and shake them out for a few seconds. This exercise can be repeated 10 times before you start working.
Take a Break
If your carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive motions on the job or during leisurely activities, you need to stop what you’re doing when you start feeling pain in your wrist. When your symptoms improve, you can resume your activities, but try to keep your wrists straight or only bend them slightly.
For people who use a computer all day, adjust your keyboard so it allows your wrists to be straight and use a wrist rest to lie them on as you work.
While you’re resting your wrists, you can use ice to help cool down your wrists to help ease the pain and inflammation in them. Use a thin towel with ice it in to place on your wrist for 10 to 15 minutes. You can repeat this treatment once or twice an hour as needed.
Heat can also be used to help relieve pain by relaxing the muscles in your hands and wrists. Place your hands and wrists in warm to hot water for 12 to 15 minutes every night before you go to bed to help ease your symptoms.
Wearing a Splint to Bed
Some people with carpal tunnel syndrome are often awakened at night due to pain. This is often caused by the position your wrists are in while sleeping. Some people will sleep with their hands and wrists in a bent position under their pillow, which puts pressure on the median nerve.
Wearing a splint to bed will help keep your wrists straight and your fingers in a neutral position, which helps to prevent pain.
Splints or other supportive aids can be worn during the day while you’re working to help keep your hands in proper position. People who keyboard for most of the day often wear typing gloves that help to keep the muscles in their hands warm as they work. These gloves fasten at the wrist with Velcro, so it can help support them and keep them from bending while typing.
If you are a smoker and have carpal tunnel syndrome, you are probably aggravating the condition with your habit. Smoking causes the blood vessels in your body to constrict, which includes those in your hands, wrists and fingers. Although you may be tired of hearing people telling you to stop smoking, you can prevent irritating your condition by quitting.
Drop Some Weight
Obesity is linked to many health problems including conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, in people who are obese, the risk of developing this condition increases by 75% to 100%. Although the exact reason for the link between obesity and carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown, it is thought the stress on the body and increased inflammation caused by obesity are responsible the syndrome developing in some people.
To help reduce your risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome or helping to ease the symptoms you may already have, you should try to drop any excess weight you are carrying. Losing weight can help reduce the amount of inflammation through your body and it can help reduce that stress on your back and neck and therefore, your wrists.
Massage Your Wrists
To help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, you can use an herbal oil made from the arnica plant. This flowering plant is part of the daisy family and grows in the mountainous regions of North America, in Europe and Siberia. Arnica oil is usually made from Arnica Montana, which is also known as Wolf’s Bane, Leopard’s Bane or Mountain Tobacco.
Use about 1/4 teaspoon of the oil and apply it to the inside of each wrist and massage it with the thumb of your other hand. Use your thumb to massage the oil into your skin from your wrist all the way to the palm of your hand.
You can repeat this treatment each morning and evening to help reduce pain and inflammation due to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Essential oils can be blended together to help provide relief of carpal tunnel symptoms. Oils that have analgesic, anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties are often used together to help those with this syndrome.
One essential oil blend that is often used combines three drops of eucalyptus oil, five drops of lavender and three drops of marjoram to rub into the wrist.
If you want a blend that will help cool your wrists, as well as reduce pain and inflammation, you can combine three drops of helichrysum oil, four drops of juniper and four drops of peppermint. To warm the area you are massaging, apply a combination of ginger oil – four drops, two drops of nutmeg and five drops of rosemary oil.
How Food can Help
By examining your diet and adding certain foods to it, you can help reduce inflammation in your body. One food you should add to your diet to help with your symptoms is pineapples.
An enzyme called bromelain is derived from pineapples and it helps to reduce inflammation by digesting inflammatory proteins. Along with helping to reduce pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, bromelain also promotes healing.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also good for reducing inflammation and they are found in fatty fish like salmon, fish oil supplements and nuts and seeds, such as flaxseeds. Add a tablespoon of flaxseed to your diet by putting it into juice, sprinkling it onto yogurt or adding it to your salad dressing to help reduce inflammation.
Foods high in omega 3s are also very good for heart health, so you are not only treating your carpal tunnel syndrome, but helping to prevent cardiac disease.
The mineral magnesium will help those with carpal tunnel syndrome because it helps to relax muscles and it is involved with nerve function. Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale or Swiss chard contain magnesium as does bananas, squash and pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, almonds, avocados and dark chocolate.
You can also take magnesium supplements, with the best choices being magnesium lactate, magnesium orotate, magnesium glycinate and magnesium gluconate as they are easier to absorb than other forms of magnesium supplements.
Natural or Organic Supplements
There are several nutritional supplements that you can take to help reduce inflammation and/or pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. Research has shown that a deficiency of Vitamin B6 combined with higher levels of Vitamin C in the bloodstream can lead to increased pain for those who suffer with this condition.
By taking B6 supplements, you can reduce your pain, but you will want to be careful with how much you take because too much B6 can also increase pain.
Studies have shown that taking as little as 2 mg a day of Vitamin B6 can reduce pain in those with carpal tunnel syndrome. Taking 100 mg of B6 helped study participants reduce pain so much that they were able to avoid having carpal tunnel surgery.
Before taking B6 supplements, have your levels checked by your doctor to make sure it would be beneficial for you to take them.
Another supplement sufferers can add to their list is curcumin, which is derived from the spice turmeric and contains anti-inflammatory properties.
While turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years to help reduce pain and inflammation, it isn’t as affective as curcumin supplements. Most stores that sell vitamins and supplements carry curcumin.
If you are a diabetic, another supplement that can help ease carpal tunnel symptoms is alpha-lipoic acid. When you take this supplement, you also need to add B vitamin biotin supplements as well because alpha-lipoic acid increases the body’s need for biotin. Start with 200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid and 2 mg of B vitamin biotin every day for symptom relief.
Exercise to Increase Strength and Flexibility
To help reduce carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms or prevent the condition altogether, you can do exercises to help increase the flexibility and strength in your hands, wrists and arms.
Some of the exercises you can do to help improve your flexibility may involve rotating your wrists from side to side and then up and down. Also, Stretch your fingers out as wide as you can, then relax them for a few seconds, and stretch them out again.
Another way to improve flexibility in your hands is to hold your hand up with all of your fingers together and then bend your fingers back for a count of five.
Repeat the exercise with each hand up to five times. You can also pull your thumb back on its own to help increase its flexibility as well.
Some exercises that will help improve the strength in your hands, wrists and arms include using light hand weights and doing wrist curls and extensions. You can also improve your strength by squeezing a rubber ball while you’re watching television or talking on the phone.
Pay Attention to Your Symptoms
Even though there are several causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, including being genetically predisposed to it, you can still prevent it if you take precautions or pay attention to the onset of symptoms.
If you do repetitive work with your hands, use vibrating tools, are obese or smoke and start noticing symptoms related to carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t assume that those symptoms are caused by something else.
The burning, itching or tingling sensations you feel in your hands or fingers are more than likely due to carpal tunnel syndrome and if you use some of the home remedies mentioned here, you can help keep the symptoms from getting worse.
These remedies can help prevent needing surgery to help resolve your carpal tunnel syndrome, which is only done when the condition is severe.
When you consult your doctor about the symptoms you are having, if they are mild or not too severe, they will probably recommend some of these remedies to help reduce any pain and inflammation caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
However, if you do repetitive work with your hands or have any other risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome, you can help prevent symptoms by warming up before work and after your breaks, using good ergonomics at work, exercising to strengthen your hands and wrists, as well as eating a properly balanced diet. Adopting some of these natural remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome can help you avoid this condition.