If you have been experiencing sharp radiating pain from your wrist till your arm since the past few months, you might be suffering from the medical condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome. It is the most common form of entrapment neuropathy which is found in approximately 3-6% of the adult population. However, there are various home remedies for treating carpal tunnel syndrome that will help you to alleviate the pain and live a healthy life.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful progressive condition in which our peripheral nerves are compressed. Our wrist serves as a communication between the nerve supply of our arm and hands. The median nerve passes through a narrow space called the carpal tunnel. This space is formed between the band of fibrous tissue and the wrist bone.
The median nerve receives sensation from the thumb, index finger and the middle finger which allows feeling and movement to other parts of the hand. Any disease condition that narrows the carpal tunnel results in the compression of the median nerve which causes the spectrum of symptoms experienced in the carpal tunnel syndrome.
Anatomy Of The Wrist
It is essential to understand the anatomy of the wrist with regards to carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is a narrow, tunnel-like structure in your wrist which has carpal bones on its bottom and sides.The top region is covered with connective tissue known as transverse carpal ligament which firmly holds it in position.
The median nerves extend though the carpal tunnel and moves towards the palm that is responsible for controlling the sensation in the palm as well as the thumb base region. The flexor tendons, present in the fingers and thumb, also travel through the carpal tunnel and assist in their bending and movement. These tendons are surrounded by tissues known as synovium which help in the lubrication of the tendon and enhance the movement of the fingers.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel syndrome is triggered when the synovium tissue surrounding the tendons swell up, compressing the confined region of the carpal tunnel and putting pressure on the median nerve. The most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are listed as follows:
- Genetic predisposition – Some families have a prevalent history of carpal tunnel syndrome running in their families. This risk can be explained by a genetic tendency for a small-sized carpal tunnel region.
- Degenerative rheumatoid arthritis – It is an auto-immune condition which affects the small joints of our hands and feet. It causes inflammation of the joints thus building up pressure in the carpal tunnel region which causes the compression of the median nerve.
- Wrist fracture and dislocation – Dislocated bones, broken wrist bones and formation of new bones from the healing regions takes up more space in the already confined carpal tunnel space which increasing the sensitivity of median nerve.
- Smoking – This restricts the flow of blood to the median nerve causing numbness and tingling sensation.
- Tumor and other growths (ganglions) – Abnormal formation of mass in the carpal tunnel region may be one of the causes.
- Edema – This causes build-up of fluid in the carpal tunnel and usually occurs from pregnancy, menopause or diabetes.
- Work-related injury – Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually characterized as a common work-related injury. Work that requires repetitive and forceful hand-movements usually cause tendon inflammation.
- Diabetes – This causes swelling and inflammation of the joints which increases pressure in the carpal tunnel.
- Obesity – This also triggers the carpal tunnel syndrome as the median nerve compresses due to increase in the adipose tissue layer.
It should be thoroughly noted that the carpal tunnel syndrome cannot restricted to a single cause. In most cases, it is usually due to a combination of health conditions and activities that puts a pressure on the median nerve.
Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Numbness and tingling sensation in the affected hand, forearm or wrist – The main alarming symptom is when one hand falls asleep at night. These symptoms are more prominent during night for the flexed-wrist sleeping position as it causes the fluid to accumulate around the wrist. Pain is NOT the main symptom for the carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Decreased grip strength of your hand – This may cause frequent dropping of objects.
- Atrophy of the hand muscles – This causes wasting of the muscles and is usually seen around the thumb and palm areas.
- Other symptoms include:
- Stiffness in the finger when you wake up in the morning.
- Difficulty in moving your hand especially when you open and close your wrist.
- Pain radiating from your hand till to your elbow.
- Encountering difficulty when lifting and carrying objects.
If you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome then make sure that you consult your doctor immediately. A significant delay in treatment may cause the damage to become irreversible.
12 Natural Home Remedies For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome usually depends on the seriousness of the damage to the median nerve. If you have been experiencing the symptoms mentioned above you should try these home remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome right away.
- Diet rich in Vitamin B6 – If you are suffering from a vitamin B6 deficiency, then it is advisable for the carpal tunnel syndrome patients to take dose of 50 mg two to three times daily. It will take you up to a month to notice any improvements in your condition. As such, make sure you faithfully follow the diet. Foods rich in vitamin B6 are as follows:
- Bran (Rice and Wheat)
- Fish (Tuna, Salmon and Cod)
- Sesame and Sunflower Seeds
- Raw Garlic
- Anti-Inflammatory diet – If you are adopting this natural home remedy to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, then you need to substitute heavily processed food in your daily diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure that you refrain from junk food, food rich in trans-fat, high-fat meals and rich in sugar food items. Some essential tips to adopt this diet are as follows:
- Look for bright-coloured fruits and vegetables such as berries, broccoli, spinach and carrot.
- The best source of anti-inflammatory protein diet is fish and other seafood.
- Make sure that your daily on-the-go snacks are filled with nuts, whole fruits and seeds.
- Have fresh salads rich in bright-coloured vegetables daily.
- Essential oil massage – Lavender and eucalyptus essential oil are known for their pain relieving characteristics. The anti-rheumatic properties are vital in alleviating pain and are popular massage oil.
- Rest – If your daily routine consists of strenuous and repetitive hand movements such as clicking mouse or punching cash register keys, you have automatically exposed yourself to the danger of carpal tunnel syndrome. The best natural remedy is to give your hand a break by keeping your wrist straight and exercise it after a few hours.
- Keep your wrist straight while sleeping – The most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is when your hand falls asleep especially during night. Studies suggest that the fluid accumulates around the wrist when you are lying down which causes the pressure to increase around the median nerve. Apart from that, there are instances when patients usually sleep with their wrist bent or stuck under the pillow which furthers compresses the median nerve. To avoid any discomfort during night make sure that you sleep straight with your wrists lying flat.
- Put ice on the affected hand – The inflammation and numbness caused by carpal tunnel syndrome can be temporarily minimised by placing an ice pack over the region for 5 to 15 minutes, two to three times daily. Direct application of the ice to your skin should be avoided.
- Elevate your arms while sleeping – As mentioned earlier, the sleeping posture causes the fluid to accumulate around the median nerve which compresses it throughout the night resulting immense discomfort. Doctors have suggested to stack pillows and place your affected wrist on it in such a manner that it is above your heart. This elevated position will eliminate the process of fluid build-up in the carpal tunnel region.
- Quit smoking – One of the causes of the carpal tunnel syndrome is smoking. This injurious addiction not only has a deteriorating effect on your heart and lungs but it can also block the narrow blood vessels of your hand.
- Wearing a wrist splint – This is the most common sought home remedy for treating carpal tunnel syndrome. By wearing a splint you can keep your wrist and hand in a normal position avoiding any form of nerve compression. You can consult your doctor to inquire about the time duration for wearing a wrist splint.
- Yoga – Limited number of researches suggest yoga can relieve the pain caused by nerve compression. Adopting a healthy yoga routine will strengthen your muscles and joints which in turn will enhance their mobility and flexibility.
- Massage therapy – Massaging the pressure points on your hand will increase the micro-vascular blood supply which will alleviate the pain in the wrist. The massage therapy aids in minimizing the pressure on the median nerve and helps in stretching the arm, wrist and fingers.
- Using the heat therapy – Putting your hand in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes is an effective home remedy for treating carpal tunnel for it relaxes the tightened muscles and tendons. You can also mix Epsom salt in the warm water.
Out of all the home remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome listed above, improving your posture to avoid repetitive motor injury should be given first priority. However, it should be noted that home remedies are only effective in the initial phases of carpal tunnel syndrome before the damage progresses. If the evidence of severe nerve damage is diagnosed, then surgery is a viable option.