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For many of us, working at a computer or engaging in repetitive motion throughout the day is a common practice.
Since our work has become more seat- and computer-based, more of us are experiencing pain and inflammation in the hands, wrists, and elbows caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
If your hands are tingling when you wake up in the morning, if your elbow hurts when you are typing, or if you have nerve issues in your hands, then finding natural treatments for your carpal tunnel is likely high on your to-do list.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects between three and six percent of the adult population, which makes it a common disorder.
Learning what causes carpal tunnel issues, how to recognize the symptoms and how to treat this condition naturally, can provide you with relief.
Once you know what causes carpal tunnel syndrome, you can also work to avoid future problems.
What is CTS?
When you engage in repetitive actions, such as typing, with your hands and wrists, you are at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
To understand this condition, you need to understand the anatomy of your hands and wrists.
Inside your wrist, there is a very narrow passageway, called the carpal tunnel.
The median nerve passes through the passage, which sends nerve impulses to your fingers, thumb, and palm.
Since this tunnel is narrow, just large enough for the nerve to pass through, it is very vulnerable to outside forces and inflammation.
As you use your hands for low-intensity but high-frequency movements, you place pressure on the carpal tunnel.
This can lead to inflammation and swelling.
If this happens, the nerve is squeezed or pressed, which can result in pain, numbness, tingling or difficulty using your hands.
Causes of CTS
Multiple contributing factors often cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
While repetitive movements can make symptoms worse, CTS may also be caused by injury or trauma to the wrist, rheumatoid arthritis or medical disorders like thyroid or pituitary gland issues.
If you use vibrating hand tools, if you are retaining fluid, or if you have a cyst or tumor in your wrist that impinges on the canal, you are likely to experience problems.
It often takes multiple factors for symptoms to begin.
Those who use their hands in repetitive ways should take precautions to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.
Movements such as knitting, sewing, playing music, typing or working on an assembly line are all common causes of CTS.
Symptoms of CTS
If you are noticing any of the following symptoms, you may have some degree of inflammation in your carpal tunnel.
To get a correct diagnosis, you should see your doctor.
Make an appointment, if you notice that you have difficulty using your hand or arm in everyday situations if you cannot make a fist, if your hand becomes numb, or if your grip has significantly weakened.
Pain is also common with CTS, including pain that worsens at night or upon waking, that radiates up your forearm or is dull or throbbing.
Those with CTS usually initially notice mild tingling, with more severe symptoms developing over time.
Addressing carpal tunnel problems early can help you to avoid significant pain and possibly loss of time at work or enjoying your favorite hobbies.
Should I See My Doctor?
If you begin noticing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, it is essential to know that your condition will get worse over time, if you don’t treat it.
If you notice the signs listed above, talk with your doctor about a CTS diagnosis.
This will help you to determine what changes you need to make to help address your situation.
f your CTS is severe and is caused by injury, a medical condition, or is causing severe limitations, your doctor may recommend surgery or other treatment.
If your CTS is mild, your doctor will probably recommend minor and preventative natural treatments to lower inflammation and keep your symptoms from worsening.
Once you know that you have CTS, you can begin using some of our favorite natural therapies to help treat your carpal tunnel pain.
Can I Prevent CTS?
If you are someone who uses their hands for work, if you consistently must use machines that vibrate, or if you’ve had a hand or wrist injury in the past that puts you at risk, you can do some simple things to prevent CTS from developing.
The most important thing you should do is regularly stretch your wrists and hands throughout your day.
Stretches relieve tension in the muscles, increase blood flow and lower inflammation.
This can improve your carpal tunnel symptoms.
Stretches should be held for at least ten seconds on each pose.
You should also stop to stretch at least once per hour.
There are even specific exercises you can do if you are at elevated risk for CTS.
These exercises strengthen your muscles to keep pressure off your nerve so that you can engage in your work.
Talk with your doctor or physical therapist about which are best for you.
Using proper posture and position while working, can also minimize the effects of repetitive movements on your wrists.
Set up your workstation, keyboard, or machine, so that you can use proper form.
This may require changing the height of your chair, standing on a stool or adjusting other settings.
Natural Treatments of CTS
It can sometimes feel very challenging to treat carpal tunnel syndrome since you can’t really go for very long without using your hands.
If your job requires the repetitive motions that are aggravating your CTS symptoms, then it can feel nearly impossible to do what is necessary to help your hands and wrists feel better.
The good news is there are many things you can do at home to treat your carpal tunnel syndrome.
Always talk to your doctor about your natural therapies.
They should be in conjunction with or complement any traditional treatments that they suggest.
This treatment option is often one of the hardest to do.
However, it is also one of the most effective.
If possible, restrict your movements and avoid heavy lifting for several days.
As much as possible, avoid the specific movements or activities that are worsening your symptoms, until your pain or tingling subsides.
If you must engage in an activity, you may choose to wear a splint on your wrist.
This keeps your wrists in the optimal position to avoid nerve impingement.
Do everything you can to rest the hand and wrist, in order to lower the inflammation that is causing your problems.
Stretch and Strengthen
When you notice carpal tunnel symptoms, you should immediately start doing stretches and exercises to prevent your pain from increasing.
Stretches should be done for your wrist, shoulder, and thumb.
There are many excellent guides available online for CTS stretches.
Nerve glides are exercises that are intended to restore the function of peripheral nerves.
Many excellent exercises of this type have been developed for CTS sufferers.
These exercises help to restore the nerve’s ability to glide through its protective sheath.
If you perform repetitive work or hobbies, you should stretch before, during, and after your activities.
Shift workers should stretch multiple times, while at work.
Stretching and doing exercises at home, is also necessary to help restore the health of your wrist and hand.
Lower Inflammation with Diet
What you eat can significantly influence your inflammation and your ability to heal your wrist.
Eating a healthy, whole food diet will provide you with the minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids that you need to recover from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Eating processed foods or those that contain excessive amounts of fat, processed flours, or sugar will also increase the levels of inflammation in your body.
You should avoid alcohol, caffeine, additives, fried foods, and excess salt.
It is important that your diet includes whole vegetables and fruits, as well as nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Eating wild-caught, oily fish, such as tuna and salmon, can also help to reduce inflammation.
If you are vegetarian, you can get your omega-3s from flaxseed oil, rosehip oil or algae oil.
Finally, drinking plenty of water is vital for lowering inflammation.
Your body needs water to keep your joints working smoothly.
Water is also used to carry away the wastes and toxins from your cells, which can raise inflammation.
Many people have enjoyed great relief from acupuncture therapy for their carpal tunnel syndrome.
A trained acupuncturist can guide you through a treatment that will work for you.
Many people experience long-lasting relief from acupuncture therapy.
Address Nutritional Deficiencies
There are several nutrients that your body needs to minimize inflammation, to support joint health, and to treat your CTS.
Magnesium is a crucial mineral that helps your muscles to remain healthy and supple.
Without proper magnesium levels, your muscles can be tight and become inflamed.
A combination of magnesium and calcium regulates your electrolytes.
This also helps to control inflammation.
In addition to getting enough calcium and magnesium in your diet, you can also add bromelain.
This enzyme, which is naturally found in pineapple, is an excellent anti-inflammatory.
You can take bromelain supplements daily to help calm the inflammation and pain of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Other herbs known to lower inflammation include turmeric and ginger.
If you want to help repair the nerve damage and lower the inflammation of CTS, you should also consider a Vitamin B6 supplement.
Use Topical Herbal Therapies
Many herbs provide benefits that can help to treat your carpal tunnel.
In many cases, they are already available as a cream or lotion.
However, you can also make your own, by infusing oil or coconut oil.
St. John’s wort, also known as hypericum, can help when you have shooting nerve pain extending from your wrist up to your arm.
This restorative and healing herb can also repair nerve damage while lowering inflammation.
Gently massage infused oil or lotion into your wrist and up your arm, up to three times per day.
The capsaicin in cayenne pepper is also a wonderful remedy for CTS.
For pain and inflammation, with consistent use, you will notice a difference in a few days.
Cayenne also supplies a calming, soothing sensation.
Arnica is a favorite herb for inflammation and pain.
It is often found in over-the-counter medicines.
Arnica helps with all types of soft tissue pain since it helps to restore circulation to inflamed and damaged tissue.
Arnica is also available as a pill that you can take internally.
Using an oral and topical version together will provide maximum relief.
A final topical treatment to try is Solomon’s seal, which is a flowering plant in the lily family.
You can infuse oil with this plant to repair damaged tissues and lower pain and inflammation.
Massage in Essential Oils
Many essential oils provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
The best anti-inflammatory essential oils include frankincense, wintergreen, helichrysum, cypress, and marjoram.
You should always combine essential oils with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.
Apply several drops of your favorite oils blended with a carrier into your wrist and massage for several minutes.
Treating carpal tunnel syndrome is vital if you want to retain the use of your hand and prevent the pain and swelling associated with this disorder.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are caused by inflammation in the wrist.
This will squeeze or pinch the median nerve, that sends impulses to and from your hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome results in inflammation that causes pain, tingling and numbness.
If it is left untreated, it can result in weakness in the hands, pain radiating up the arm and reduced functionality.
Carpal tunnel can be treated using rest and stretching.
However, you can also manage the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome by using herbal remedies, topical treatments, and essential oils.
These treatments work best in conjunction with preventative measures that will reduce further inflammation of the nerve tissue.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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