Being a blogger can certainly have its setbacks, mainly in the realm of nerve disorders as a result of using a computer all day. In this day and age, repetitive motion makes up much of our daily lives and it is these steady yet rapid movements that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome and other nerve issues of the hands, wrists, elbows, and even in the neck and shoulders.
Today, I want to share my tips and tricks on how to cure carpal tunnel naturally!
How to Cure Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Naturally
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (or CTS) is the cumulative trauma associated with repetitive motion and the constant use of the fingers or wrists using low-intensity/ high-frequency movements and is one of the most common peripheral neuropathies affecting adults today.
The carpal tunnel itself is a very small opening that sits just below the wrist where the arm and hand connect. This passageway allows the median nerve to pass from the bones and muscles of the forearm to the palm, thumb, and fingers. Because the opening is so small, it is vulnerable to pressure and inflammation and can easily succumb to irritation and pain that can, over time, affect normal range of motion.
What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
• Difficulty moving the affected hand or arm normally
• Inability to make a fist
• Loss of awareness/proprioception of where your hand is in relation to your body and space
• Numbness, tingling, or pain in the thumb and first three fingers
• Pain is worse at night or in the morning
• Pain may radiate to the forearm or the shoulder
• Throbbing pain in the affected hand or arm
• Weakened grip and difficulty or inability to perform movements that require strength in the hands/fingers
• Weakness in the thumb or first three fingers
Symptoms usually begin as a mild tingling but can develop over time into crippling, excruciating pain.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
• Any movement that strains tissues and tendons of the fingers and wrists
• Bone spurs in the wrist
• Certain medication that causes fluid retention
• Constant vibration of the hands (like holding a jackhammer for extended periods of time)
• Continuous use of hands and fingers
• Degenerative joint diseases
• Incorrect use of workplace machinery, computers, or poor technique associated with sports, hobbies, etc.
• Not taking breaks when consistently using your hands for several hours
• Poor posture
• Pregnancy (hormonal fluctuations and changes)
• Vitamin B6 deficiency
“Occupational Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” is specific to those who develop CTS because of their exposure to high intensity/high pressure/high force repetitive movement at work.
Since the 1980’s, when computers began flooding the workplace, carpal tunnel syndrome rates have risen to about 4% of the general population and 10% of those who work using a computer. So, chances are if you’re consistently using your hands knitting, typing, playing music and other forms of steady, rapid finger movements, you may want to take a few precautions in order to lower your risk of developing CTS.
How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Stopping your work for a moment to stretch your hands and wrists to help alleviate tension and increase blood flow is one of the best ways to prevent CTS. Doing carpal tunnel exercises is another way to help keep pressure and inflammation at a minimum when you’re required by your job to perform repetitive movements.
Another key element to be aware of is making sure that you’re using work equipment correctly. CTS is often caused by improperly using a mouse or keyboard, so pay attention to proper form in the workplace and during other times when you use repetitive movement like when playing sports or video games, during exercise, or while working on your hobbies.
Here are some exercises you can use as both a preventative measure and as a treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome:
What to Expect if You Suspect CTS
Since CTS gets worse as time goes on, it’s super important to see a doctor and confirm whether or not you actually have carpal tunnel syndrome. This way, you can begin to make changes right away either in the workplace or in your personal life to prevent it from getting worse.
Your doctor may perform an electrophysiological test and various stretches on the affected hand in order to make a diagnosis.
If it’s confirmed that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor may prescribe a wrist brace/splint to wear while you sleep, NSAIDs, or even surgery depending on the severity of your case.
However, it is possible to heal carpal tunnel syndrome naturally!
How to Cure Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Naturally
So what do you do when you actually have carpal tunnel and are facing the possibility of surgery but don’t want it?
Believe me, I know how you feel because this was me about 6 years ago when I used to work as a cashier and got injured on the job scanning some orange juice. Yeah, scanning juice at an odd angle is what ultimately caused my carpal tunnel.
It all comes back to doing things with proper form and technique in my case. Instead of putting the carton of juice down in order to pick it up from a better angle, I decided to twist and turn the carton until I could locate the barcode. In the process, I overextended the flexor tendons in my wrist and the median nerve got irritated.
After a bunch of tests and physical therapy, the doctor wanted to perform surgery. I declined and decided to see if I could cure my carpal tunnel syndrome naturally, and you know what? It’s been working!
Here are my top tips for treating CTS naturally:
This one may be difficult to accomplish, especially if your workplace has trouble accommodating restricted movement or heavy lifting. I highly recommend getting a Dr.’s note that explains exactly what movements you need to avoid and for how long.
It’s really important to cease certain movements and activities (even if they’re your hobbies) in order to help your body heal itself and reduce strain and inflammation. Changing or modifying these activities will ensure that your CTS doesn’t get worse.
2. Do Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Exercises and Stretching
Performing hand and wrist “nerve gliding exercises” that are specific for treating CTS is a great way to restore range of motion and healthy circulation to the carpal tunnel.
I recommend doing these before your shift at work begins and during at least one of your breaks while at work. It will help keep things nice and limber while working. While at home, try performing these exercises 2-3 times a day and take frequent breaks when doing repetitive motions for long periods of time.
Stretching your hands and wrists properly is another way to help keep the carpal tunnel nice and open to prevent inflammation. Just be careful not to overextend the affected area while stretching and just do it to the point where it still feels comfortable while getting a good stretch.
You can see some examples of these exercises and stretches above.
3. Eat More Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Diet is closely linked with the amount of inflammation we have in our bodies so eating whole foods that are rich in omega-3s, vitamins, and minerals is an important step that shouldn’t be skipped.
Make sure to cut out processed foods as much as possible like baked goods, soft drinks, candy, bread, pasta, and other products high in alcohol, sugar, salt, flour, additives, or unhealthy fats. While these foods are nice to have on occasion, they should definitely NOT be the bulk of your diet.
Opt instead for whole fruits and vegetables to up your nutrients and wild caught fish (or vegan equivalent like marine algae oil), nuts, seeds, and other healthy sources of fat for a good dose of inflammation-fighting omega-3s.
Have a green smoothie or green juice in the morning to pack in your nutrients if you find eating so many fruits and vegetables difficult.
Also, stay hydrated! The body can’t get rid of inflammation if there isn’t enough water in the body to efficiently carry away cellular wastes.
4. Take Supplements
One of the root causes of CTS is Vitamin B6 deficiency. Studies have shown that taking 100mg of B6 2-3x a day has the ability to reduce nerve damage and inflammation associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Do not exceed 300mg per day. This is the B6 I like.
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that is known to combat stubborn inflammation. It is recommended to take 500mg of bromelain 3x daily. Look for products that contain 2,000 MCU (milk-clotting units) or 1,200 GDU (gelatin-dissolving units) per 1,000mg. Bromelain works well with other anti-inflammatory supplements like ginger root, turmeric, and Boswellia. These can be taken as directed on the packaging in conjunction with bromelain with great results.
Calcium & Magnesium
Most Americans are deficient in magnesium so it’s no wonder inflammation has become a huge issue over the years. On top of that, our calcium to magnesium ratio is often out of balance which can cause many of the muscular ailments we have today.
Calcium and magnesium are what help regulate the electrolytes in our bodies. Without proper levels of each of these nutrients, our muscles can become tight, tense, and inflamed. Magnesium, in particular, is an excellent muscle relaxant that also soothes inflamed blood vessels and nerves.
It is recommended to take a complex containing 500mg calcium and 250mg magnesium 2x daily to reduce muscle tightness and nerve irritation. I like this calmag supplement.
White Willow Bark
White willow bark is what the original Aspirin was made of so it’s no surprise that it works well for inflammation and pain management. It also thins the blood which allows for better circulation in irritated tissues, but be aware of that fact if you’re already on blood thinners.
I love ginkgo for its stimulating circulatory effects which makes it perfect for speeding up the healing process especially in tight areas like the carpal tunnel.
Take 120mg 2x a day of standardized extract (24% flavone glycosides).
5. Take/Apply Homeopathics
Arnica (Arnica montana)
Arnica 30c is an excellent homeopathic remedy for pain that feels deep, bruised, and throbbing. As soon as you notice the first signs of carpal tunnel syndrome, pick up a tube of arnica pellets and take the recommended dose for two days. You can also apply arnica cream or arnica gel to the affected area with great results. Using both to oral and topical forms of arnica in tandem is my favorite method to use these remedies.
Causticum 30c is another excellent remedy for recurring or long-lasting carpal tunnel syndrome where the wrist feels bruised with a burning or drawing pain. Symptoms can include a stiffness or contracture in the wrist and forearm. Heat application relieves symptoms.
Hypericum (Hypericum perforatum), aka St. John’s wort, is for symptoms of shooting nerve pain that extends up the arm from the wrist.
Rhus toxicodendron is for pain that feels achy that improves with movement and dry warmth but worsens with inactivity and damp.
Ruta graviolens is for pain that feels stiff, bruised, and aching in the wrist where the wrist itself feels weak from overuse.
6. Herbal Oils and Creams
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is one of the best nerve healing and nerve restorative herbs. It helps alleviate inflammation and repair damaged nerve tissue. It works well as an infused oil and can be gently massaged into the affected area 2-3 times a day. It has a beautiful red color!
Arnica flowers can also be infused in oil and used to treat pain and inflammation associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Massage into the affected area 2-3 times daily for best results. This is the arnica oil I like to use when I’m out of my homemade version.
Frankincense resin and essential oil come from Boswellia trees that are known for their potent anti-inflammatory properties. You can find Boswellia creams and ointments that are effective against the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other degenerative joint and connective tissue type ailments.
This has been one of my favorite remedies to use for alleviating pain my wrist.
Solomon’s seal is another incredible herb for repairing damaged tendons, ligaments, nerves, and other connective tissues. It also reduces pain and inflammation.
Cayenne (aka capsaicin) sounds like it would be super uncomfortable to use, but I promise you, it’s one of the best natural remedies for carpal tunnel I know of.
If used consistently over several days, cayenne will saturate the affected tissues with all of its anti-inflammatory goodness and reduce pain in the process. This allows the body to repair itself and restore nerve function. I have enjoyed using this capsaicin ointment for pain and inflammation.
7. Essential Oils
Essential oils can be true anti-inflammatory powerhouses and are one of the essential elements I’ve used in treating my own carpal tunnel syndrome.
Some of the best essential oils to use for CTS include:
To make an effective massage oil, mix:
Apply a few drops to the affected area and gently massage it into the skin as needed.
The most effective acupressure points for relieving carpal tunnel pain and inflammation include Pericardium 6 and 7 (P6 and P7) and the Triple Warmer 5 (TW5).
According to Prescription for Natural Cures:
In a preliminary trial, people with CTS (some of whom had previously undergone surgery) received either acupuncture or electroacupuncture (acupuncture with electrical stimulation). Researchers found that 83 percent of the participants experienced complete relief that lasted two to eight years after follow-up.
10. Other Methods
• Be sure to give your wrist and fingers enough rest, preferably several days of very little use to see if symptoms improve. If they do, then continue with modified movement until symptoms cease.
• Fix your posture so that you are using a mouse and keyboard (and any other work equipment) properly to prevent swelling and irritation of the carpal tunnel.
• See a chiropractor. They can often adjust the bones of the wrist so that the carpal tunnel isn’t being pinched or pressed on due to misalignment.
• Try to keep your hands and wrists warm while you work as cold conditions can aggravate CTS symptoms.
• Use a cold compress to reduce pain and inflammation
Have you been able to cure carpal tunnel naturally? Share your tips in the comments!
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