Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The onset of carpal tunnel syndrome can be rather subtle and you may simply dismiss the initial sensation as a passing cramp. It may begin with that annoying numbness and tingling sensation that you’ve felt in the hand and wrist quite often. We only tend to notice anything untoward when afflicted with pain. In all likelihood, you only realized that the problem was less mundane than cramps when you felt the shooting pain from your wrist.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that is brought on by a pinched nerve in the wrist, causing sharp pain to radiate from the wrist through the arm. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway that protects the main nerve to your hand and the tendons as well. When there is excessive pressure on the nerve, the compression of the nerve causes numbness and pain, with a weakening of the hand. These are the main features of carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition may develop because of various factors, such as your wrist anatomy, due to certain underlying health conditions or because of repetitive hand movement patterns. Ailments that cause swelling and inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis are very likely to cause carpal tunnel syndrome to develop.

While carpal tunnel syndrome can afflict anyone, it is a lot more common in women. On a positive note, carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated quite easily and it does not have to be a lifelong or regular problem. The main focus of the treatment is to enable the wrist to rest so as to give it a chance to recover. You will need to avoid any use of your hands and wrists for activities that could otherwise contribute to the problem. This would include most repetitive hand motions such as from typing.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome can produce some or all of these symptoms:

  • Your thumb may feel numb and you may also notice a tingling sensation. This could affect the thumb and in the adjacent digits as well, and may be experienced in just one or both hands.
  • Your palms may also feel numb and tingling.
  • You will experience pain in the wrist that could be rather severe and it may extend right up to the elbow.
  • Finger movements that require a greater amount of dexterity and coordination can be rather challenging.
  • You may experience difficulty carrying and lifting objects.
  • If the condition has been neglected or is in the advanced stages there may also be muscle loss under the thumb causing a weakening of your grip.
  • Weakness in one or both of the hands is also not uncommon.
  • The numbness may cause some amount of difficulty and discomfort when feeling or examining small fine objects.

In most patients, these symptoms tend to be a lot more severe at night and the pain may even cause you to wake up from your sleep. This tendency is attributed to the sleeping position that most of us maintain with flexed wrists. It could also be caused by fluid accumulation around the wrist and hands when laying flat. The duration of the condition also tends to vary, with some individuals experiencing it simply as a temporary phenomenon that resolves naturally, while in others it can persist and worsen progressively.

In the initial stages carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms may be so mild that they go unnoticed or may even be neglected as they do not cause much of a problem. With the passage of time the condition worsens however and you may even begin to experience a burning sensation. The cramping also worsens and the gradual loss of strength will severely affect your ability to grip and hold objects. Muscle atrophy is also quite common, particularly in case of chronic carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome should not be neglected, no matter how trivial it may seem. Ignoring the condition can lead to muscle and nerve damage.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes are not always identifiable, but the condition usually results from repetitive stress injuries. Any condition that subjects the median nerve in the wrist to excessive pressure can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Some physical and health conditions that could lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome include pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, arthritis and hypothyroidism. Wrist injuries can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome to develop. Anyone who spends prolonged periods engaged in any activity that requires repetitive movements like typing may develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Some activities that put you at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome include painting, driving, typing, sewing, writing, the use of precision tools or heavy machinery, sports like table tennis or handball and playing some musical instruments.

Diseases like amyloidosis, sarcoidosis, and multiple myeloma can cause a buildup of abnormal substances in and around the carpal tunnel, which then results in nerve irritation, but these conditions are extremely rare.

Remedies for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Home remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome can help to cope with the symptoms, but they are not meant to be a substitute for medical attention. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of carpal tunnel remedies can vary from individual to individual, so you will actually need to experiment to find a home remedy for carpal tunnel that suits you. Before you try out any carpal tunnel home treatment, make it a point to check with your health care provider.

The main focus of treatment is rest and physiotherapy. Natural remedies for carpal tunnel work along the same principles:

  • Yoga is believed to help combat the condition as the poses practiced in yoga help to strengthen and stretch the muscles and joints, improving flexibility and mobility. This may help to reduce the pain associated with the condition and it could also help to improve grip strength or at least contain the damage.
  • Physical therapy is not just an alternative treatment or home remedy for carpel tunnel. It is an accepted approach to treatment and is usually recommended as a post surgical treatment, in cases where surgery is needed.
  • Acupuncture is another commonly used alternative approach to carpal tunnel treatment. It is believed to help release natural pain relieving chemicals and also improves circulation. Acupuncture is also thought to help maintain the nervous system’s delicate balance.
  • Acupressure also works along the same principles, but pressure is applied to improve blood flow and circulation, helping to reduce the numbness and swelling in the wrists.
  • Studies into the effects of massage therapy have been encouraging, with test subjects who underwent therapy experiencing less pain and improved grip strength.

If there is no respite from the symptoms despite the use of both conventional and natural methods of treatment, you may need to undergo surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome to release the pressure on the nerve. This is a minor surgery that does not require overnight hospitalization and usually lasts just an hour.

Diet for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There may not be any specific diet for carpal tunnel syndrome, but following a healthy diet is important. It may be a good idea to include foods like flax seed, pumpkin seeds, avocados and nuts in your diet because they are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation. Seafood and lean poultry can also be quite healthy for the same reason. At the same time, it is advisable to cut down on fatty foods, red meats and alcohol.

Supplements of vitamin B12 can also help to control carpal tunnel syndrome, but you need to consult a nutritionist for the required dosage. Studies into the effects of vitamin B12 on the condition have so far been promising.

Enzyme supplements like bromelain may also be recommended for the condition as this can help to reduce swelling in the wrists.


  1. Dora Leung, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, In: Editors-in-Chief: Michael J. Aminoff and Robert B. Daroff, Editor(s)-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences, Academic Press, New York, 2003, Pages 517-521, ISBN 9780122268700, 10.1016/B0-12-226870-9/00881-9.
  2. Tiffany Field, Miguel Diego, Christy Cullen, Kristin Hartshorn, Alan Gruskin, Maria Hernandez-Reif, William Sunshine, Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are lessened following massage therapy, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2004, Pages 9-14, ISSN 1360-8592, 10.1016/S1360-8592(03)00064-0.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments - more information
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Frequently asked questions
10 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome remedies suggested by our users
150 MG od Vitamin B-6
suggested by Barbara on Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I had a burning, numbing sensation in my right hand, and was sent to a specialist who told me to use 150 MG of B-6 for 3 weeks and give him a call and let him know how I was doing. I called him and told him that some of the pain and numbness was gone, and he told me to cut back to 100 MG, and that I was going to get better. That was 18 years ago, and thank the Lord I have been pain free for that many years.

Japanese mint oil
suggested by Riki on Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I am a massage therapist and one of my common tools is Japanese mint oil (alot of therapists will sell this). Apply to the wrist in the morning and cover with a warm wet compress for 5 minutes to loosen the area, and apply to the wrist and cover with a cold wet compress in the eveining to alleviate inflamation. I have carpal tunnel from work, and this works like a charm!

Carpal Tunnel
suggested by Elizabeth on Sunday, May 27, 2007

Is caused by damage or irritation to the vertebrae of the neck and top thoracics. Find someone who can alleviate these and it will disappear as if by magic. The top thoracics are the most difficult to adjust because they are usually calcified and resistant to movement. Deep massage or a decalcification treatment would help also.

Bowling brace, Carpel Tunel
suggested by Julie on Sunday, December 31, 2006

Wear a bowling brace to protect when sleeping and when doing intensive or heavy work and take B6 (with B complex, of course, never take a single B without B complex also.) Some prefer a medical brace...see what works best for you. Having the stabillizing plate on the top of your wrist is easier to work with...some bowling braces have a plate on the top and bottom in pockets so one or the other can be removed.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments. More...