Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that I see often in my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice, in patients as early as late teens/early 20s, and in both males and females. It is a condition that can cause quite a bit of discomfort and aggravation in patients, and one that can worsen over time significantly if not addressed.
The Carpel Tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist that allows nerves and tendons to pass from the forearm into the hand. The nerve that is impacted in Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is the Median nerve, which is one of the main nerves that provides sensation in the hand. Symptoms occur when there is compression of the median nerve travelling through the Carpel Tunnel. Because the carpel tunnel is a small space, anything that could cause a reduction in that space (such as swelling and inflammation) would cause compression of the Median nerve.
This in turn would cause nerve sensations in the hand or arm, such as numbness, tingling and weakness. Some patients can experience a slight tremor in their hand, or an inability to hold objects for a prolonged time. A hallmark symptom is that if the fingers are affected, the pinkie finger will not be, and this is because the pinkie finger is innervated by a different nerve than the rest of the fingers. Patients will also often report their symptoms can be worse at night while sleeping, because we tend to sleep with our wrists bent. They tend to say that shaking their wrists will reduce their symptoms.
It is very important to see your Medical Doctor for an official diagnosis, as there are other health conditions that can cause the same symptoms. Your doctor will perform a physical exam on you, and may even send you for Nerve Conduction testing. It is important to treat Carpel Tunnel early on, as over time, pressure on the Median Nerve could lead to nerve damage.
Patients that are at risk of developing Carpel Tunnel Syndrome are those that engage in repetitive motion of their hand and wrist, which can aggravate the tendons in the wrist and cause them to become inflamed, taking up more space and putting pressure on the median nerve. Holding the hand in the same position for prolonged periods of time can do the same thing. Pregnancy, hypothyroidism, obesity and Diabetes also are associated with this condition. Women tend to be at higher risk than men, and more so middle aged women or women experiencing hormonal shifts ( pregnancy or menopause).
Early treatment can involve wearing a wrist brace to keep the wrist straight, thus reducing pressure on the nerve that would be caused by prolonged bending or extending. Surgery is an option in more severe cases as well.
So what does Naturopathic Medicine have to offer in the treatment of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome? Keep reading below to find out about the different options.
Vitamins and Supplements
There are lots of options here for reducing inflammation in the wrist as well as relaxing muscles and supporting nerve health. I always do a thorough history of my patients health, and the medications and supplements they are on to ensure there are no interactions. You can read more about Professional Grade Supplements here.
Again anti-inflammatory herbs can be very supportive of nerve health and pain experienced in Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. You can read more about Botanical Medicine here.
This modality is one that I get significant success with in my patients. By increasing blood flow to the wrist, we can increase healing factors and support inflammatory mediators being taken away from the wrist to reduce inflammation. I can also do acupuncture points for sleep, stress, digestion, mood support, and so much more. You can read more about Acupuncture here.
I get great results with Bowen therapy as well, by addressing muscles in the upper back, neck, shoulders, forearms, and the hand. You can read more about Bowen Therapy here.
There a lot of lifestyle interventions that the patient can perform to minimize the inflammation and pain of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Stretching, icing, wearing a brace, minimizing holding the wrist in prolonged flexion or extension, exercise...these are all things that can help. Interventions will be based on the patients health history and individual factors that contributed to developing this syndrome in the first place.
As you can see, there are lots of great options with Naturopathic Medicine in the treatment of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Don’t hesitate to give me a call at my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice to see if these options could be helpful to you!
Dr. Ramona Charikar BScH, ND
Naturopathic Vitality Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic
205-5403 Crowchild Trail NW, Calgary AB