Carpal Tunnel is being diagnosed more often in the last 50 years or so due to our love of the computer and phone technologies.
We are constantly typing away on our keyboards, whether it is computers or phones with little regard to the repetitive stress we are placing on our wrists, fingers, and hands.
The carpal tunnel is a passage within the wrist that allows the carpal ligament and the medial nerve to connect the arm to the hand. From repetitive use and other disease processes, the carpal tunnel can become inflamed causing swelling and pressure upon the carpal ligament and the medial nerve.
This results in many uncomfortable symptoms in the hand and fingers which can severely interrupt normal daily living.
This article discusses the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, the symptoms, current treatments and herbal remedies that can alleviate symptoms.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by many disease processes that can cause inflammation of the carpal tunnel. The following conditions predispose a person to be diagnosed with this syndrome.
Repetitive Trauma to hands and fingers
People who spend too much time using keyboards are at high risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Also if you use jackhammers, pneumatic wrenches, work in an assembly industry which requires repetitive movements of the hands, wrists, and fingers, working with any machinery that causes rigorous, strong vibrations in the hands or regularly participating in any activity that requires repetitive hand movements and repeated flexion of the wrists.
Trauma to the bones of the wrist can result in swelling and inflammation of the carpal tunnel.
If you have a family history of carpal tunnel syndrome, you are at higher risk. Due to genetics, some people have an abnormally small carpal tunnel which leaves little room for the ligaments, tendons and medial nerve to pass through easily.
This places more pressure on the medial nerve resulting in carpal tunnel symptoms.
Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Menopause
These diseases can cause secondary carpal tunnel syndrome due to causing inflammation in the tissues of the wrist that surround the carpal tunnel.
Pregnancy causes the body to retain fluid, this extra fluid causes swelling in the tissues that surround the carpal tunnel, placing extra pressure on the ligaments and medial nerve within the carpal tunnel.
Whilst we are asleep we sometimes inadvertently lie in a position that causes the wrists to be flexed for long periods. This pinches the medial nerve and can sometimes wake you up. Repeated pinching of the nerve whilst sleeping, can lead to permanent carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel
Symptoms of carpal tunnel can be mild to severe from one individual to the next and can cause permanent damage if not treated early.
The symptoms are caused by the pinching of the medial nerve within the carpal tunnel. Consult your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms.
Tingling Sensation and Numbness
The thumb, second, third and inside of the fourth finger can experience sensations of numbness and tingling. This can be mild, moderate or severe. It can also be accompanied by itchy skin of the fingers and thumb.
The muscle at the base of the thumb can waste away and become weak and lose its muscle tone. This is caused by impaired circulation to the thumb due to an inflamed carpal tunnel. Hands and fingers can also become weak and lose the ability to grip objects.
Pain in the hands, fingers, and wrist can be mild to severe and sometimes can radiating to the arm and shoulder. And this pain is often described as a burning sensation.
Wrist braces can be worn at night and during the day to prevent the wrist from flexing and pinching the medial nerve. They also prevent further trauma to the carpal tunnel. Ice packs can be used to treat the burning sensations in the hands and fingers.
Sometimes anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to reduce the swelling in the tissues surrounding the carpal tunnel.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, cortisone injections which are a stronger anti-inflammatory can be injected directly into the carpal tunnel. Surgery is the last option in which a surgeon frees the trapped medial nerve providing relief of symptoms that may or not be permanent.
Herbal Remedies for Symptom Relief
Herbal remedies are not for everyone. They can cause side effects and can interact with your current prescription medications. If considering using an herbal remedy to treat your symptoms, the best advice is to talk to your doctor first.
Skullcap is the most common herb used to treat symptoms of carpal tunnel. It can be taken in the forms of herbal teas, capsules and as a liquid. It can help relieve pain associated with carpal tunnel and prevent muscle spasms.
Turmeric, a common household spice, can be added to the diet as a flavoring. It is effective at reducing inflammation helping to release the pinched medial nerve. Also, it is available in capsule form in some health food shops. It is recommended to take 300 mg of turmeric 3 times per day.
Cat’s claw is also a potent anti-inflammatory. It is also available in capsule form and as an extract in some health food shops. It is recommended to take 20mgs of extract 3 times per day.
Other effective herbal treatments can include aloe vera, devils claw, yarrow, yucca, bromelain, Boswellia, capsicum, butcher’s broom, St Johns wart, marshmallow root, ginkgo and wintergreen oil.
In conclusion, carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming more common worldwide. It results in many sick days taken off from work. You should never ignore these symptoms and seek medical intervention immediately to prevent permanent damage.
The herbal remedies in this article are generally well tolerated and may help relieve your symptoms but are a complementary treatment that can be used alongside conventional treatments.
- Mayo Clinic; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355603
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Carpal tunnel syndrome Treatment; http://owensborohealthse3.adam.com/
- Carpal tunnel syndrome – Penn State Hershey Medical Center; http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=115&pid=10&gid=000034
- Image “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” From Wikimedia Commons; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carpal_Tunnel_Syndrome.png
- Picture “The Three Signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Numbness, Tingling and Pain” From Publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=90139&picture=carpal-tunnel-syndrome
Disclaimer: The information contained in this “3 Signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Numbness, Tingling and Pain” article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice