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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 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 tendons are surrounded by tubes of tissue (tendon sheaths). The median nerve controls some movements of the thumb, and this nerve supplies feeling to most of the thumb and to the index finger, middle finger, and part of the ring finger.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is believed to stem from extended periods of repetitive motion in the hands and wrists. The following is a brief list of some of the more common conditions and causes of CTS:
• Conditions such as hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis can increase the amount of tissue in the carpal tunnel
• Wrist injuries
• Forceful or repetitive movement of the fingers and hand
When compared with other illnesses and injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common causes of absence from work
People who work with computers, assembly-line workers, and carpenters seem to be most susceptible. Other non-job-related links are activities like golf, tennis, gardening, skiing and shooting, and health challenges like arthritis, thyroid disorder, gout, diabetes and even pregnancy. Basically, anything that has a repetitive motion involved with the hands and wrists may contribute the risk of developing this condition.
Symptoms of CTS may include numbness, weakness, pain or tingling in the hands. The exact location is usually where the nerve passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. In some cases, people may notice lack of motor control in the hands as well as a loss of sensation to heat and cold.
To date, modern medicine offers a few "solutions" to CTS. The most drastic approach is surgery. For those opting for the less invasive approach, the use of pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs and splints seem to be the most useful. All of these are a "bandaid" on the condition. I believe that 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 other approaches that are "good for you" as opposed to more radical medical treatments with drugs or surgery. Mother Nature provides us with some key nutrients that are very helpful at reducing pain and inflammation. Obviously, as mentioned above, lifestyle changes are the most important. Until you can change your activity, supplements will offer you the relief you need without the side effects of modern treatments. The use of acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation has been helpful for many CTS sufferers. As with modern medicine, splinting or demobilizing the affected hand and wrist is also very helpful.
I recommend several supplements for CTS. The most popular supplement for CTS 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 associated with CTS. Long term use of more than 200mg of B-6 should be monitored by your natural health practitioner. 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 the use of B-6, supplements which help reduce inflammation and pain are also helpful. I prefer the use of Zyflamend® and Coromega®. Zyflamend provides a shotgun approach to fighting inflammation and the damage it causes. This supplement contains several powerful antioxidants and natural "COX-2 inhibiting" herbs. Coromega® is an Omega-3 supplement from fish. I believe the addition of Omega-3's should be part of most natural anti-inflammatory supplement programs. If you have difficulty finding these particular supplements, consult with your natural health associate for a brand that is similar in quality and ingredients.
If you have been dealing with CTS, it is time for you to go natural. Time (and natural medicine) heals all wounds. Give your wrist(s) a rest, and take your supplements regularly to assure yourself you get the results you desire.