Isvaiyah has been a licensed pharmacist at Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia) for nine years. She earned her M.Sc. from the same university.
What Is Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS for short, is a condition where you get numbness, a tingling sensation, or pain in the fingers and thumb. It is caused by compression of the median nerve (one of the main nerves to the hand) as it passes through the wrist. Inflammation of the wrist is the usual cause.
Conventional Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you’ve been diagnosed with this unpleasant condition, you’ll need to consider how to treat carpal tunnel. Wrist splints are often used to keep the wrist straight and are sometimes an effective treatment. They can be particularly useful at night, preventing you from bending your wrist while sleeping. Commercial over-the-counter, or OTC, pain medications are often used and can bring relief in some cases. However, their long-term use can give rise to various side effects.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or CTS often occurs during pregnancy, but in this case, it should resolve itself in the months after the baby is born. This painful condition is also associated with repetitive actions at work, particularly those involving vibrating pieces of machinery, such as chainsaws, sanders, and drills. Ask if you can rotate your work so that you aren’t always repeating similar actions. See if you can get ergonomically designed tools and workstations so that any strain on your wrist area is minimized. For example, a wrist rest is useful for those using keyboards.
Carpal Tunnel Home Remedies
In severe cases, surgery may be required to reduce the compression of the median nerve. However, there are a number of easy alternative carpel tunnel treatment options that are worth trying to see if they work for you.
Table of Remedies
Put ice wrapped in a cloth around your wrist.
Avoid heat treatment as it makes matters worse.
Take bromelain one to three 300 or 500 mg capsules a day.
Avoid use if you are taking blood-thinning medication or if you are allergic to it.
Follow the direction or dose on the packaging.
Avoid use if you are taking blood-thinning medication, have lupus, or if you are allergic to it.
Take some ground ginger root with a meal, or drink a cup of ginger tea afterwards.
Not recommended for those taking high blood pressure or diabetes medication.
Drink a cup of warm green tea after a meal.
avoid use if you are pregnant or nursing or have a high sensitivity to caffeine.
Eat food rich in Vitamin B6 or take vitamin B6 supplement (follow the dose on the packaging).
Don't go overboard! Or avoid use if you are taking phenytoin.
300 milligrams three times a day.
Not recommended for pregnant, nursing women, or those taking blood-thinning medication or aspirin.
Home Treatment #1: Ice
Ice packs are a good home treatment for carpal tunnel. Wrap an ice pack in a cloth, then put it around your wrist (putting the pack directly on your wrist may give cold burns). The ice pack will tend to reduce the inflammation and ease the symptoms.
Heat treatments should not be used for carpal tunnel syndrome, as they tend to make the condition worse.
Home Treatment #2: Bromelain
This enzyme, which is isolated from pineapples, can help reduce inflammation and eases the symptoms of carpal tunnel. Capsules are commercially available.
What to Do
Always take these between meals, as they tend to act in the digestive system, rather than on inflammation if taken just before or after eating. Take according to the instructions on the package: one to three 300 mg or 500 mg capsules per day is a typical dose.
"A Warning Word: Avoid any bromelain preparation if you are taking anticoagulant medications; it can make bleeding more likely. Allergies to bromelain occasionally occur, so it’s best to try a small dose the first time you take it, then wait a while to make sure you don’t get a bad reaction."
Home Treatment # 3: Cat's Claw
Cat’s claw, or Villacorta (Uncaria tomentosa), is a climbing plant. It contains various anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help relieve carpal tunnel symptoms.
Capsules of the extract are available. Follow the dose on the packaging, as the strength of extracts can vary.
"A Warning Word: Allergies do occasionally occur, so take a small dose at first, waiting to see if you have any adverse reaction. Avoid this remedy if you are taking blood pressure medication or suffer from lupus."
Home Treatment #4: Ginger Root
The root of ginger (Zingiber officinale) is known to contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties, making it a useful alternative carpal tunnel home treatment.
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What to Do
Take some ground ginger root with a meal, or have a cup of ginger tea afterward. Lemon and ginger root tea is a popular combination; tea bags are available from a number of suppliers.
Home Treatment #5: Green Tea
Green tea is rich in polyphenol compounds, which give it powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is not a cure for carpal tunnel, but it can ease the symptoms.
Try drinking a cup of green tea after a meal, rather than your normal coffee.
Home Treatment #6 : Vitamin B6
It is believed that carpal tunnel syndrome may be aggravated by a deficiency of vitamin B6. It has also been suggested that relatively high doses may raise the pain threshold in sufferers.
Good food sources include whole grains, meat, nuts, bananas, and vegetables.
Scientific studies on the effects of this vitamin on carpal tunnel syndrome have given contradictory results: further larger studies are needed.
A Warning Word:
- Vitamin B6 can be harmful in high doses, so never take more than 100 mg per day (maximum US adult dose).
- Do not take more than 2 mg per day if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you experience any side effects, such as nerve damage, stop taking the supplements immediately.
- Avoid any B6 supplements if you’re taking the anti-epileptic drug phenytoin.
Home Treatment #7: Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian and other Asian recipes. The spice has been used to treat various medical conditions for centuries.
Turmeric extract is a useful carpal tunnel home treatment since the spice has potent anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains various antioxidant compounds, such as curcumin.
Capsules are commercially available. Use the dose indicated on the packaging (300 mg three times a day would be typical).
"A Warning Word: Turmeric is harmless in the small amounts used in cooking, but you should avoid medicinal doses if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not take with blood-thinning medications or aspirin, since large amounts of turmeric can increase the risk of bleeding. Avoid taking any turmeric preparation if you have gall bladder problems."
Another Useful Home Treatment: Yoga
Yoga can be a relaxing and successful home remedy for carpal tunnel. The condition can respond to various yoga exercises for the wrists, arms, and the rest of the upper body. However, some yoga exercises should be avoided, as they put too much pressure on the wrists. Try to find a yoga teacher with experience with carpal tunnel who can show you what to do.
A scientific study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 concluded that yoga treatment was better than wrist splints, or no treatment at all, in alleviating carpal tunnel symptoms. The patients were treated with exercises following the Iyengar approach to yoga.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2017 Isvaiyah