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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
by Dave Foreman
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the most common peripheral nerve compression syndrome, affecting about 2 million American adults. For some reason this condition seems to impact more women than men.
The carpal tunnel is a small space or "tunnel" in the wrist formed by the wrist bones (carpal bones) and a ligament (transverse carpal ligament). The median nerve and several tendons pass through the carpal tunnel from the forearm to the hand. The median nerve controls some movements of the thumb, and this nerve supplies feeling to most of the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and part of the ring finger.
The problem is believed to derive from extended periods of repetitive motion in the hands and wrists. Here are some common causes and conditions associated with CTS:
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common causes of absenteeism in the workplace. People who work with computers, assembly-line workers, and carpenters, seem to be most susceptible. Other nonjob related activities are golf, tennis, gardening, skiing, and shooting. Basically, anything that has a repetitive motion involved with the hands and wrists may contribute to the risk of developing this condition. Certain health challenges can also play a role, such as arthritis, thyroid disorder, gout, diabetes, and even pregnancy.
Symptoms of CTS include numbness,weakness, and pain or tingling in the hands. The exact location of the pain usually corresponds to where the nerve passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. In some cases, people may notice a lack of motor control in the hands, as well as a loss of sensation to hot and cold.
To date, modern medicine offers few solutions to CTS. The most drastic approach is surgery. For those opting for a less invasive approach, the use of pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and splints, seem to be the most useful.All these treatment options, however, are merely band-aids on the condition. Unless you change your lifestyle (decrease or eliminate the triggering activity, you will be prone to this condition forever.
Natural medicine doesn't offer a cure for CTS, but it does offer many approaches that are good for you, as opposed to the more radical medical treatments with drugs or surgery. Mother Nature provides key nutrients that are very helpful at reducing pain and inflammation. Obviously, as mentioned above lifestyle changes are most important. One must discontinue the activities that provoke and aggravate the condition. Until then, supplements will offer much needed relief without the side effects of conventional medical treatments. For many CTS sufferers, the use of Acupuncture and Chiropractic manipulation has been helpful, as has splinting and simply demobilizing the effected hand for a period of time.
I recommend several supplements for CTS.The most popular is Vitamin B-6. Taking 100mg of B-6 (up to 3 times daily) has been shown to help reduce the pain and other symptoms. Long-term use of more than 200mg of B-6 should be monitored by your natural health practioner. It is important to note that prolonged use of very high levels of B-6 has been associated with damage to sensory nerves. I have found that taking a B-complex and an extra magnesium supplement with your B-6 will often offset the potential for nerve problems.
Besides B-6, I prefer Zyflamend® and Coromega®. Zyflamend, which contains several powerful antioxidants and natural COX-2-inhibiting herbs, provides a shotgun approach to fighting inflammation and damage caused by inflammation. On the other hand, Coromega® is an Omega-3 that comes from fish. To my mind, the addition of Omega-3's is just as important as the other supplements. In fact, I believe Omega-3s should be part of most natural antiinflammatory supplement programs.
If you have been dealing with CTS, it's time for you to go natural. Time (and natural medicine) heals all wounds.To get the results you desire, give your wrist(s) a break and take your supplements regularly.