About carpal tunnel syndrome

Medical Point of View

You're working at your desk, trying to ignore the tingling or numbness you've had for months in your hand and wrist. Suddenly, a sharp, piercing pain shoots through the wrist and up your arm. Just a passing cramp? More likely you have carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful progressive condition caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (although not the little finger), as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move. The carpal tunnel - a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand - houses the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm. Although painful sensations may indicate other conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common and widely known of the entrapment neuropathies in which the body's peripheral nerves are compressed or traumatized.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers. Some carpal tunnel sufferers say their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent. The symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during the night, since many people sleep with flexed wrists. A person with carpal tunnel syndrome may wake up feeling the need to "shake out" the hand or wrist. As symptoms worsen, people might feel tingling during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. In chronic and/or untreated cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away. Some people are unable to tell between hot and cold by touch.

Alternative Point of View
Reprinted from Nature's Field Vol. 8 No. 4 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
by Judy Cobb

In order to study carpal tunnel syndrome we must first learn about general neuritis because carpal tunnel is localized neuritis. Neuritis is considered to be a symptom rather than a disease and is defined as inflammation and/or deterioration of a nerve or bunch of nerves. The symptoms of neuritis include pain, tingling, numbness, tenderness, redness, swelling, and in severe cases, convulsions. Dr. Bernard Jensen says neuritis always happens when the nerve fibers and the space around the nerves become over acid (please read about the body pH). The acidity causes pain, swelling, interference of nerve impulse transmission and sometimes loss of feeling. Acid can build up in tissues as a result of many things.

Trauma to the area, a broken bone, diabetes, gout, leukemia, mercury poisoning, lead poisoning, and methyl alcohol poisoning, deficiency of B complex vitamins, and strenuous repetitive use of a joint can lead to the acid build up that can cause neuritis. Dr. Paavo Airola provides more ideas as to possible causes of neuritis citing nutritional deficiencies, such as B complex deficiency, but especially thiamine and B6, metabolic disturbances, faulty calcium metabolism, chronic acidosis, and faulty phospholipid metabolism as being suspect. Other less cryptic causes include poor posture, sleeping in strange positions, or sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.

Carpal Tunnel

Carpal is the official term for the wrist. (The metacarpals are the bones of the hand.)
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the inflammation of the nerve that sits between the tendons of the forearm muscles that flex the hand and the transverse superficial carpal ligament. If this nerve becomes inflamed, it creates pressure between the muscles and ligaments and causes pain in the wrist and palm, which can radiate pain up the forearm.

It is common to have decreased sensation in the palm side of the little, ring, and middle fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also seen in acromegaly which is a condition wherein the feet, hands and face grow due to an excessive amount of growth hormone from the pituitary gland. Myxedema, which is often found in extreme cases of hypothyroidism, can also cause this condition.

Pregnancy, with the changes it can produce in body fluids, also can lead to this problem. Women are about four times as likely as men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. The common medical treatment is surgery in which the ligaments in the wrist are cut to relieve the pressure on the nerve. Of course, this still leaves the neuritis. Dr. Lendon Smith specifically states that vitamin B6, up to 300 mg per day, taken for 3 to 4 weeks should help to reduce the inflammation and possibly eliminate the need for surgery. Massage may also be helpful, but tends to work only on the symptom and not the cause. If surgery has already been performed, taking B6 for two or three weeks will help to reduce the remaining neuritis.

Nutritional Support

Dr. Jensen states specifically that organic sodium must be included in the diet in large quantities to destroy the hyperacid level of the tissue. The most highly recommended food for this purpose is raw celery. Most salad vegetables (excluding iceberg lettuce) contain a fair amount of organic sodium.

Dr. Airola recommends a diet of "whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, raw seeds and nuts, especially almonds, raw fruits and vegetables, sprouted seeds, artichokes, raw milk, especially in soured form, and 1 cup of homemade cottage cheese a day." as being beneficial (Airola, p. 135).

Other dietary considerations include using fresh juices of carrot, beet, apple, and pineapple. Things to avoid include coffee, carbonated beverages, caffeine, sugar, white flour, salt and cigarettes as these are unhealthy stimulants.

Recommended therapies include dry skin brushing, hot and cold Kneipp baths, and mild exercise. Supplements should include large quantities of B-complex, including B1, B2, B6, B12, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, nutritional yeast, calcium, lecithin, magnesium, silica, and protein. Louise Tenney reports that Gotu Kola is helpful in neuritis.


It also makes sense, since this is a nerve and inflammation problem to use nervine herbs like hops, valerian, and skullcap or combination eight, or APS II.
APS II is especially helpful in alleviating the pain.

Gotu Kola
may also be helpful in building the nerves.

Stress-J Formula with its high compliment of B vitamins may be helpful. Of course it makes sense to add extra B6 as Dr. Smith recommends.

Yucca is one of my favorite herbs for stimulating the natural production of anti-inflammatories. This is helpful in reducing the pain by taking the inflammation down.

A healthful diet, rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, with lots of good, clean water to drink would help to reduce the acids that cause inflammation.

Enviro-Detox, liquid chlorophyll, liquid red clover, and safflower all help to remove acids from the body.

Hydrated bentonite removes heavy metals and can be used if heavy metal poisoning is thought to be the cause of the problem.

Every physical problem also has mental/emotional causes and reactions. Louise Hay says that carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by "anger and frustration at life's seeming injustices." An affirmation she has written that may be helpful is "I now choose to create a life that is joyous and abundant. I am at ease."

Carpal tunnel syndrome and neuritis in general need not cripple or disable anyone. Dietary changes and the proper supplements can have a tremendous impact on this problem.

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The Merck Manual, fifteenth edition. Merck & Co., Inc.Rahway, N.J. 1987.
Today's Herbs. Woodland Books. Provo, Utah., Vol X, No.7.
Airola. Paavo. How to Get Well. Health Plus, Publishers. Sherwood, Oregon. 1974
Balch, James and Balch, Phyllis. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Avery Publishing Group, Inc. Garden City Park, NY 1990 Dunne, Lavon J. Nutrition Almanac, third edition. McGraw Hill Publishing Company. New York. 1990
Hay, Louise. Heal Your Body. Hay House, Inc. Santa Monica, CA.1984
Jensen, Bernard. The Chemistry of Man. Bernard Jensen. Escondido, CA. 1983
Mervyn, Leonard. Thorsons Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. Thorsons Publishers, Inc. Rochester, Vermont. 1987. Smith, Lendon. Feed Yourself Right. Dell Publishing Co., Inc. New York. 1983.