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Natural Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments

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Updated June 25, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

carpal tunnel syndrome
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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the fingers or hands, particularly the thumb, index, middle, or ring fingers. Loss of sensation in the fingers and weakness in the hands can also occur.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive finger and hand use (especially with improper positioning). A nerve called the median nerve becomes compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel, the narrow passageway of bones and ligaments on the underside of the wrist.

Conditions such as obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, arthritis, and diabetes can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

Natural Remedies for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Here are eight natural remedies that are used for carpal tunnel syndrome relief.

1) Acupuncture

Acupuncturists insert thin needles into specifics point on the body. Traditional theory holds blockages along energy pathways in the body, called meridians, can cause pain. Acupuncture releases these blockages and improves the flow of energy along meridians.

A scientific explanation is that acupuncture may release natural pain-relieving chemicals into the body, promote circulation in body, and balance the nervous system.

What is a treatment like? For carpal tunnel syndrome, acupuncture points are generally on the wrist, arm, thumb, and hands, as well as other parts of the body such as the upper back, neck, and leg.

The number of acupuncture sessions depends on various factors such as how long you've had the symptoms, symptom intensity, how much you use your arms and hands, and your overall health.

Laser acupuncture, which uses a handheld laser instead of acupuncture needles, is also used for carpal tunnel syndrome. One study looked at 36 people with a median pain duration of 24 months. Fourteen had one to 2 surgical release procedures with no results. After three laser acupuncture sessions a week for 4 to 5 weeks, 33 people had no pain or their pain was reduced by more than 50%. All of the people who had failed surgery had a noticeable improvement. Acupuncture wasn't a quick-fix-the follow-up after 1-2 years found that pain returned for only 2 people out of 23 people, and they were successfully treated within several weeks.

Learn more about acupuncture.

2) Acupressure

Acupressure is based on the same principles as acupuncture. Instead of applying needles to acupuncture points, pressure is applied, which is thought to stimulate blood flow to the wrists and hands and ease numbness and swelling in the area.

Acupressure points for carpal tunnel syndrome are typically on the wrists, forearms and hands.

Here is an example of how to do acupressure for carpal tunnel syndrome.

3) Vitamin B6

In several research studies, vitamin B6 deficiency has been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. A study by the Portland Hand Surgery and Rehabilitation Center in Oregon examined 441 people and found that higher levels of vitamin B6 were associated with fewer carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Researchers also found that higher levels of vitamin C relative to lower vitamin B6 levels were associated with a higher prevalence and greater frequency of carpal tunnel symptoms.

A Japanese study of 174 university students found that students with lower levels of vitamin B6 showed symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Food Sources of vitamin B6 include sweet potatoes, avocados, brown rice, sunflower seeds, chick peas, salmon, pork, chicken, turkey, potatoes, bok choy, barley, bananas, and mangoes.

Risk factors for vitamin B6 deficiency:

  • diet lacking in vitamin B6
  • use of oral contraceptives or HRT
  • consumption of foods containing yellow dye #5, such as some types of macaroni and cheese and pickles
  • stress

A typical dose of vitamin B6 for carpal tunnel syndrome is 50 mg 2 to 3 times a day. Side effects may include increased urination. It can take up to 6 weeks to notice an improvement. The maximum intake from all sources should be less than 200 mg a day, unless otherwise recommended by your doctor.

More about vitamin B6.

4) Herbal Medicine, Vitamins, and Supplements

  • Enzyme supplements such as bromelain or combination enzyme products (e.g. Wobenzym) may help to reduce tissue swelling associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. It can take several weeks to notice results. The main food source of bromelain is pineapple.
  • Arnica - a double blind randomized study by the Department of Plastic Surgery of Queen Victoria Hospital in West Sussex, England examined whether arnica can speed up the recovery of hand surgery compared to placebo. People who took homeopathic arnica tablets and arnica ointment had a significant reduction in pain after two weeks. There was no difference in grip strength or swelling between the two groups.
  • Vitamin B12 - a study looked at the effectiveness of vitamin B12 for people with carpal tunnel syndrome due to overuse of the nonparalyzed arm after stroke. For two years, 67 people in the study received 1500 mcg of vitamin B12 a day, and the remaining 68 did not. After two years, there was significant improvement in the group taking vitamin B12 compared to the untreated group.
More natural carpal tunnel syndrome treatments on the next page...
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