Performing repetitive manual tasks on a regular basis, such as using a
keyboard for long hours on a daily basis, may leave you vulnerable to carpal
tunnel syndrome, or CTS. The carpal tunnel is the channel in the wrist through
which the nerve and tendons of the hand run. When this channel is put under
constant pressure or strain, the nerve is squeezed and causes pain and weakness
in your hand. CTS may be related to other health conditions, such as Lyme
disease or rheumatoid arthritis. It occurs more often in women, especially
during pregnancy and menopause. If you have woken up in the night with painful
tingling in one or both hands, have daytime tingling or weakness in your hands,
or have felt pain shooting up from your hand into your arm, you may have
If you think your symptoms indicate CTS, visit your physician for a full
diagnosis. He or she may recommend that you wear a splint or brace to keep your
wrist from bending and to minimize or prevent further pressure on the nerve.
Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen),
corticosteroids (steroid drugs, injected into your wrist to reduce swelling),
and diuretics, if needed. Surgery may be recommended if other interventions
There are several complementary and alternative therapies that have proven to
be effective remedies for CTS. Eighty-five percent of people with CTS respond
well to vitamin B6 therapy, though it may take up to 3 months for
this treatment to reach its full effectiveness. Topical application of
arnica gel may also prove an effective treatment. These treatments, along
with other complementary and alternative options, are detailed below.
- Reduce or eliminate the foods in your diet that promote inflammation:
modify your intake of saturated fats and fried foods.
- Take vitamin B6 supplements (50 to 200 mg a day) to relieve
pain and improve functioning. Also consider taking a B-complex vitamin to
prevent the imbalance of other B vitamins and to promote the body's use of
- Incorporate essential fatty acids (1,500 to 3,000 mg a day) into your
diet for at least a month. Essential fatty acids can reduce inflammation and CTS
- Take curcumin (250 to 500 mg) and bromelain (250 to 500 mg) between
meals to reduce inflammation.
- Take lipoic acid (100 mg twice a day) to reduce swelling and
A combination of equal parts of the following herbs in a tea or tincture may
decrease inflammation, provide some pain relief, and enhance healing.
- Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
- St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)
For tea, use 1 heaping teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to
10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures can be
purchased from health food stores. They are preparations made from alcohol (or
water and alcohol), containing an herb strength of 1 part herb to 5 parts
solvent or 1 part herb to 10 parts solvent. If you take this as a tea, drink 1
to 3 cups per day; as a tincture, take 30 drops three times a day.
Some of the most common homeopathic remedies for CTS are listed here. Usually
the dose is 12X to 30C every one to four hours until symptoms improve. Be sure
to consult an experienced homeopath for the correct remedy and potency for your
- Apis mellifica for joints that are red, hot, or
- Arnica montana for soreness; may be especially effective if
applied topically (in a gel or cream)
- Guaiacum for CTS that improves with cold
Be sure to talk with your physician or pharmacist to best determine which
herbal or nutritional supplements are for you. Some supplements should not be
taken if you have certain medical conditions or are taking particular
There are also some things you can do by way of prevention. Stretch or flex
your arms and fingers before you begin to work and at frequent intervals
throughout the day. Try to vary the tasks that you do. Modify your work
environment: If your CTS is the result of using a computer, invest in an
adjustable keyboard and wrist rest.