What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
There are a number of factors that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome such as arthritis, diabetes, repetitive strain injury, and pregnancy. Any activity, injury, or illness that puts pressure on the median nerve can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Keep it in neutral
Keeping your wrist in a neutral position, that is not extending or flexing it, can help to relieve symptoms of CTS by relieving pressure on the median nerve. One common method of treating carpal tunnel syndrome is to wear a wrist splint. Wearing a wrist splint at night when symptoms are most prevalent can help to keep your wrist in a neutral position.
Natural pain relief can often be more beneficial to us than ploughing our way through stacks of pain medication. Natural pain relief remedies often have little or no side effects whereas conventional medication can often come with a whole bunch of other complaints.
The great news is that natural pain relief remedies can be found by simply opening your spice cupboard. Turmeric has traditionally been used to help relieve arthritis and inflammation and this action is thought to be due to a chemical called curcumin. Similarly, ginger is also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as helping to soothe and support the digestive tract.
Devil’s Claw, a South African herb that can help reduce inflammation and muscle and joint stiffness and soreness, could also be beneficial in helping to relieve CTS pain. Devil’s Claw is a good alternative to those who either can’t take pain killers or wish to take a more natural approach to pain management. You can find Devil’s Claw in our natural pain relief remedy Atrosan.
Pushing through activities that are causing you discomfort in your wrist such as numbness, tingling or pain probably won’t help much in relieving symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Instead look to your body for signs that it wants to change its position, posture or pattern of movement. Take regular breaks especially when your wrist, hand, or fingers feel fatigued or achy. Get up and walk around, stretch out your arms, adjust your position and shake out your hands.
Simple wrist exercises can help relieve pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. First try bending the wrist forwards and backwards, taking the finger tips down towards the ground then up towards the ceiling. Then try gently circling the wrists in one direction and then the other way. Finally, open the fingers as wide as you can and then clench them into a fist, repeat this 5-10 times.
Stay in shape
If your body’s circulatory and repair systems work efficiently you'll be less likely to suffer carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Making sure your circulation is healthy will help to make sure that the extremities – being the hands and the feet – get the blood and nutrients they need circulated to them. For some handy tips on how to boost your circulation check out Helen’s blog for natural ways to boost your blood circulation.
Being overweight will put an excess strain on your body and make it harder for your heart and circulation system to work effectively. This strain can then aggravate carpal tunnel symptoms so losing a couple of pounds could also be beneficial.
How you sleep
In most cases symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are most apparent at night, some doctors believe this is because the fluid in the body is redistributed when you lie down, so more of it accumulates in the wrist. However, your sleeping position may be another contributing factor, sleeping with your wrist bend or tucked underneath your head or pillow can cause compression of the median nerve.
Our sleeping position can have a massive impact on our body and also the quality of sleep that we achieve. Don’t be afraid to try several sleeping positions to find the one that best suits you, try to avoid any sleeping positions which compresses the median nerve.
Applying an ice pack onto your wrist and forearm for around 10 minutes 2 to 3 times a day can help to reduce inflammation and swelling. It can be tricky to know whether ice or heat is best for your pain but in this case ice should win out over heat. While ice can reduce inflammation and swelling, heat can worsen a carpal tunnel problem because it causes the tissues in the narrow passageway to swell.
Eat foods that can help reduce inflammation
Another way you can reduce inflammation is through your food, try including more antioxidant-rich foods, such as bell peppers, that have the effect of reducing inflammation. Walnuts are another good inclusion to consider as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can also work to decrease inflammation. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that is thought to help break down inflammation, which can, in turn, aid carpal tunnel symptoms.
Consume more vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is an important mineral involved in hormonal regulation, as well as reducing tiredness and fatigue. It is also important for protein metabolism and brain health.
Although more research needs to be done in this area some studies have found that taking vitamin B6 could potentially help with carpal tunnel syndrome. There is much debate around this area though with some experts claiming that deficiency in this vitamin could be a culprit factor in leading up to carpal tunnel syndrome, whilst others believe that vitamin B6 helps promote pain relief due to its antinociceptive properties (which reduce sensitivity to pain).
Although vitamin B6 is available in supplement form we don’t need large quantities of it which is why I would recommend attempting to get it through your diet. While vitamin B6 is essential for our body’s function overconsumption of this vitamin can lead to nerve toxicity and negatively impact the nervous system. There are many natural food sources of vitamin B6 including bananas, spinach and sunflower seeds, so I would recommend including more of these in your diet if you can.
What else can I do?
If you find that your symptoms are getting worse I would suggest getting a doctor to check out your symptoms. If you find that home and herbal remedies haven’t helped you there are still a variety of options out there that could help relieve symptoms such as acupuncture and surgery.