CAM for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

CAM for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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 CTS.

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 fail.

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 vitamin B6.
  • 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 symptoms.
  • 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 inflammation.


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 individual needs.

  • Apis mellifica for joints that are red, hot, or swollen
  • Arnica montana for soreness; may be especially effective if applied topically (in a gel or cream)
  • Guaiacum for CTS that improves with cold applications

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 prescription medications.

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.


Integrative Medicine Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs & Supplements. Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Review Date: June 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

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