What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful progressive condition caused
by compression of a key nerve in the wrist. It occurs when the median nerve,
which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the
wrist. Symptoms usually start gradually, with pain, weakness, or numbness in the
hand and wrist, radiating up the arm. As symptoms worsen, people might feel
tingling during the day, and decreased grip strength may make it difficult to
form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. In some cases
no direct cause of the syndrome can be identified. Most likely the disorder is
due to a congenital predisposition - the carpal tunnel is simply smaller in some
people than in others. However, the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is
especially common in those performing assembly line work.
Is there any treatment?
Initial treatment generally involves resting the affected hand
and wrist for at least 2 weeks, avoiding activities that may worsen symptoms,
and immobilizing the wrist in a splint to avoid further damage from twisting or
bending. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and
other nonprescription pain relievers, may ease pain. Cool (ice) packs and
prednisone (taken by mouth) or lidocaine (injected directly into the wrist) can
relieve swelling and pressure on the median nerve and provide immediate,
temporary relief. Stretching and strengthening exercises can be helpful in
people whose symptoms have abated. If symptoms last for 6 months or more,
doctors may recommend surgery to sever the band of tissue around the wrist and
reduce pressure on the median nerve.
What is the prognosis?
Recurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome following treatment is
rare. The majority of patients recover completely. To prevent workplace-related
carpal tunnel syndrome, workers can do on-the-job conditioning, perform
stretching exercises, take frequent rest breaks, wear splints to keep wrists
straight, and use correct posture and wrist position. Wearing fingerless gloves
can help keep hands warm and flexible.
What research is being done?
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
conducts research on nerve-related conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome in
its laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also supports
research through grants to major medical institutions across the country.
Current studies include several randomized clinical trials to evaluate the
effectiveness of educational interventions in reducing the incidence of carpal
tunnel syndrome. Another clinical study is collecting data about carpal tunnel
syndrome among construction apprentices to better understand specific work
factors associated with the disorder and develop strategies to prevent its
occurrence among construction and other workers. Scientists are also
investigating the use of alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, to prevent
and treat this disorder
Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Nutritional and Herbal Therapy for
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) can be helpful for
reducing numbness and tingling and support the nervous system.
- Vitamin B6 can also reduce numbness and tingling.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for reducing
- Tumeric, ginger and bromelain (in
pineapple) reduce inflammation.