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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Transverse section of the wrist. Based off Gra...

Transverse section of the wrist. Based off Gray's anatomy diagram of the same. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you experience numbness, tingling, pain, shocklike pain, and/or burning sensations on the palmar surface of the hand that also affects the first three fingers and half of the fourth finger (from thumb to pinky), you may be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).  This condition often occurs from repetitive functions required in the workplace for such professions as typists, musicians, and craftspeople.  Such repetitive motions place pressure on the median nerve that passes through the wrist bones and ligaments for the palms and fingers.  Symptoms may be worse at night often causing sleep disturbance or awakening.  While prevention of these motions is best to prevent injury, often employment requirements cannot be altered and one must find effective interventions to help support the structures in the wrist and hand.

Various therapeutic approaches exist to address the many different conditions underlying carpal tunnel syndrome.  Contrast hydrotherapy often helps to relieve pain and swelling.  Immersing the hand and wrists in hot water for three minutes followed by immersing in cold water for 30 seconds may prove helpful.  This pattern should be repeated 3-5 times and performed 1-2 times daily.

Self stretching of the fingers and palms has proven helpful for some people.  This opens up the joints allowing fluids and nutrition to bathe the tissues and enables waste products to move out, especially pain chemistry.

Massage of the hands, wrists, forearms, upper arms, and shoulders may provide relief reducing any swelling but also bringing essential fluids and nutrients to these areas.

Literature about this syndrome recommends avoiding all foods containing yellow food dyes (#5 tartrazine) as these are toxins to nerve and brain cells. Actually all artificial food colorants are not healthy.  Excessive protein intake has been shown in research studies to contribute to CTS.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) supplementation has proven effective for some sufferers; however it may take up to three months to feel the effects.  Generally all B vitamins need to be taken together with at least 50 mg per day of each B as all Bs work together.  If choosing Vitamin B supplementation, it is recommended to not exceed 150 mg per day of each.  Begin with the minimum dosage recommendations and move upward until symptom relief is noted.

Some foods providing B6 include salmon, chickpeas (garbanzos), bulgar, bananas, nuts, raisins, onions, spinach, watermelon, cantaloupe, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, organ meats, and whole grains.

Bromelain found in pineapples may provide some pain relief due to its anti-inflammatory properties.  With fresh pineapples now available, this may prove quite supportive in reducing symptoms.

Resources:  Pizzorno, Joseph E. and Murray, Michael T. (2006) Textbook of natural medicine, 3rd Ed. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

Murray, Michael (2000). Dr. Murray’s total body tune-up. New York: Bantam Books.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, owns Touchstone Therapeutic Massage in Sandpoint and is the founding member of The Sandpoint Wellness Council.  She may be reached at 208/290-6760.

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