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Carpal tunnel syndrome

General characteristics

General characteristics

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve (which runs from the upper arm, down through the lower arm and into the hand) becomes compressed or inflamed at the area of the wrist.
The carpal tunnel itself is a passageway in the wrist on the palm side of the hand, created by a thick band of ligament which serves to protect the  ligaments, tendons and nerves to the hand. The median nerve is responsible for conveying sensation and some movement to the thumb and first 3 fingers on the palm side of the hand. When the median nerve is put under pressure, from nearby inflammation or damage to the area, then the symptoms of carpal syndrome show up.
The symptoms are usually confined to the thumb and first 3 fingers on the palm side of the hand and include burning sensations, shooting pains, pins and needles, tingling and numbness which are often worse at night, usually waking the person, and first thing in the morning.  It can also give sensations of swelling and numbness in the thumb and first 3 fingers, decreased ability to grip or form a fist and can sometimes cause wasting of the fleshy muscular base of the thumb if left to progress un-treated. You may also feel aches and pains graduating into your lower arm, upper arm, shoulder or neck.
It is commonly associated with repetitive manual tasks (such as assembly line workers) but can also result from an injury to the wrist or area, as a result of rheumatism and arthritis, water retention, tumours or cysts in the area, pregnancy, kidney failure, diabetes or from thyroid imbalance. Often there is no discernible cause.
Resting the affected hand/s is recommended, as is 'shaking out' the hands and applying ice packs to reduce the swelling and ease the symptoms.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Include plenty of B vitamins in your diet, especially B6 as this is important in nerve functioning and preventing inflammation. Foods rich in these include bananas, spinach, sweet peppers, garlic, tuna, cod, cauliflowers, mustard and turnip greens, celery, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, watermelon, turkey, prunes, molasses and chard. Your diet should be based on fresh whole grains, fruit, veg and nuts and seeds.

Have a bowl of home mixed muesli for breakfast including grains, dried fruits, some nuts and seeds and include some crushed or ground linseeds which are good against inflammation.

Eat a small bowl of fresh pineapple and papaya each day as they both contain an enzyme called bromelain which is very good at reducing inflammation anywhere in the body, whatever the cause. If you can't use fresh, then the tinned fruit that does not have anything added to it will do.

Avoid salt and foods containing it as this causes tissues to retain water which can press on to the median nerve.

Avoid all processed and junk foods and anything with hydrogenated fats or oils as these pre-dispose the body to inflammatory states.

Cut right down on caffeinated drinks, alcohol and smoking.

Use chilli and ginger in your cooking to increase circulation and reduce pain and swelling.

Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory so use in cooking or add a half teaspoon of the powder to herbal teas or warm milk.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Make an anti-inflammatory and pain relieving formula from the following tinctures. Meadowsweet, willow bark, wild yam, st johns wort, cramp barks and skullcap in equal parts and take a teaspoon of this mix in a little water 3 times daily. You can also add a few drops of prickly ash tincture to each poured dose to greatly enhance the action of the herbal formula.
A poultice made from comfrey root, burdock root and solomons seal root can be made by simmering a teaspoon of each in a mugful of water and blending into a goo. Mix with some slippery elm or similar powder to form a paste and apply to the wrist on the palm side. Lightly wrap with a bandage to hold the herbs in place and re-apply a fresh batch daily. This will bring speedy relief from symptoms .You can also add a pinch of chilli or ginger powder to increase the circulation.
 

Natural healing

Natural healing

Apply ice or cold packs to the wrist for 15 minutes each day to relief pain and inflammation.
Rest the affected hands and consider using splints to immobilise them whilst they are actively inflamed.
'Shaking out' the hands (point hands towards the floor with your arms at your sides and shake continuously for a minute or so) can provide temporary relief and free the median nerve from its entrapment for a while.
To 50ml of a base oil such as olive or almond, add a couple of drops each of frankincense, wintergreen or peppermint essential oils and apply to the area every few hours, especially before bedtime.
Look at a yoga book or website for specific exercises for dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome.
You can also make a poultice by applying fresh grated or sliced ginger to your wrist and bandaging lightly overnight.
Many people have found relief through acupuncture.

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