Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Home Remedies and Exercises for Pain Relief
Many people experience occasional numbness, pain, or tingling in their hands. Usually, these symptoms are ignored until they become severe. These symptoms could be linked to a condition called carpal tunnel syndrome. It happens when the median nerve traveling through the carpal tunnel get compressed. It is a progressively degenerative condition, which means that the symptoms worsen over time. Early diagnosis and treatment are therefore necessary. (11)
Keeping in mind the benefits of early diagnosis, it is recommended to be on the lookout for the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome: (1)
Numbness in the hands and fingers, usually experienced before sleeping or after waking up
An itching, burning, or tingling sensation in the hands or fingers that is felt while in motion or a relaxed state
Sudden experience of shock-like sensations that run up and down the arms
Trouble performing motor tasks that require the manipulation of small objects, such as picking up small objects, tying shoelaces, and unbuttoning or buttoning oneself up
Muscular weakness in the hands
Carpal tunnel syndrome results from pressure on the median vein of the hand, which passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. (1)
It can be hereditary for some. For these people, their carpal tunnel is genetically smaller than that of others. Obesity is also one of the reasons for increased pressure on the carpal tunnel.
Repetitive hand motions, especially in a position where the wrist is held lower than the hand, or when repeated flexing of the hand is required can also lead to swelling and subsequent suppression of the median vein. It is therefore quite common, considering the “modern-day” lifestyle and eating patterns and the fact that a lot of people spend a considerable part of their day working and typing on computers. Working in assembly lines or with vibrating objects is also a risk factor.
Diabetes and deficient functioning of the thyroid gland can also lead to this condition.
Gender is also said to be a risk factor, due to the carpal tunnel being smaller in women than in men and women experiencing greater hormonal fluctuations at the starting of and during menstruations, at the time of menopause, and during pregnancy, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. The female body also has the tendency to retain fluids due to the hormonal fluctuations, causing bloating and swelling, which may put pressure on the median vein.
Tumors or abnormalities in the wrists can also result in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Myths Associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Myth: Surgery does not cure carpal tunnel syndrome. It only provides a temporary cure.
Fact: Surgery is an effective way of curing this syndrome and relapses are very rare.
Myth: The only reason for pain in the hands is carpal tunnel syndrome.
Fact: Although the prevalence for this is quite high, it is not the only reason for pain in the hands.
Myth: Carpal tunnel syndrome can only happen to people who work in factories and on the keyboard.
Fact: Certain occupations can put one at high risk, but this can happen to anybody.
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
At advanced stages, seeking medical treatment is recommended. You can opt for surgery. Post-surgery, you may feel mild pain and experience a reduction in your ability to grasp things. There may also be swelling and inflammation. You may expect that it takes about 2 to 3 months for the wrist to heal.
However, some home remedies are effective in alleviating the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and pain relief.
Method 1: Vitamins
Taking vitamin B6 supplements can alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. A 2013 study published in the Advanced Pharmaceutical Research suggests that vitamin B6 treatment helps in relieving the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. (9)
Other studies have claimed that vitamin B6 works primarily by raising the pain threshold, or the ability of the body to tolerate pain. It also acts as an antidiuretic, leading to frequent urination and thus ridding the body of excess fluid retention.
There is a contradictory view as well that suggests vitamin B6 deficiency does not cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Rather, it is the effect of it. (2) Irrespective of the reason, vitamin B6 does help with the management of symptoms and should be taken in moderation, as excessive use may lead to harmful impacts on the central nervous system.
Single-Step Method: Take the vitamin supplements orally
Take one capsule of 50 mg vitamin B6 for mild pain and 200 mg for severe pain, every day.
It should be taken before sleeping.
The effects of vitamin B6 can be enhanced by consuming vitamin B2 and vitamin B12, which help in maintaining the metabolic rate of the body and in the repair of damaged nerves.
Method 2: Exercise
Exercise, specifically of the arms and the wrists, relieves symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. There are simple exercises that can be performed while working or before going to bed. Exercise improves blood circulation and relaxes tense muscles. Frequently doing the following exercises may be one of the most effective ways of easing the pain, tingling, and sudden shocks. (3)
# Finger Stretching
Choose a base position that is comfortable for you.
Hold your hands out in front of you.
Stretch your fingers wide. Count to 5, then bring your hands back to normal position and repeat.
Continue this for about 5 minutes.
# Wrist Stretching
Sit or stand in a comfortable position.
Stretch out your arms in front of you.
Keep your palm facing the ceiling. Slowly bend it downwards with fingers pointing to the ground. Hold the position for 10-12 seconds. Repeat with the other hand.
Do this two times a day
Method 3: Acupressure
This point is located in the middle of the wrist, at the juncture of the two elevations of the palm. Applying pressure on this point helps in relieving pain in the wrist and the thumb. (4)
# Point Pericardium 7 (P7) or the Great Mound
This point is located in the middle of the wrist, at the juncture of the two elevations of the palm. Applying pressure on this point helps in relieving pain in the wrist and the thumb.
Single-Step Method: Gently massage the point with your thumb
Place your thumb on point P7.
Apply pressure and massage the said spot.
# Point Pericardium 6 (P6)
This point helps in mitigating the pain and in getting rid of nausea. It is located on the inner surface of the forearm, two fingers from the wrist, towards the body.
Single-Step Method: Locate and press the point gently
P6 can be located at a distance of three fingers from the wrist fold.
Once you locate it, gently massage the area, using your thumb.
# Point Triple Warmer 4 (Tw-4)
This point is located on the outer surface of the arm, towards the little finger, on the wrist crease.
Single-Step Method: Apply pressure on the Tw-4 point gently
Locate Tw-4 on your wrists.
Apply pressure on the spot, with your thumb.
Method 4: Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid, taken in oral or intravenous form, is very effective in soothing the pain resulting from carpal tunnel syndrome. It reduces inflammation caused by the cytokines released in the body. It can be taken with gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which also has anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2009 clinical study conducted on 112 subjects for a period of 90 days found that alpha lipoic acid, in combination with GLA, was more effective in relieving pain in those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, in comparison with a placebo. (5)
Another 2014 study published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine concludes the positive and safe usage of alpha lipoic acid, vitamin B, and curcumin phytosome, for patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome before and after undergoing surgery. (10)
Single-Step Method: Take the supplements orally
Take one capsule of 500 mg of alpha lipoic acid.
You can take one capsule of GLA (350 mg) as a supplement with alpha lipoic acid.
Method 5. Castor Oil Massage
Massaging the wrists and the surrounding area can be quite successful in alleviating the pain, by increasing the blood circulation and releasing the muscular tension. Massages, however, need to be supplemented with other methods if the condition has existed for a very long time or if intense pain is felt.
Researchers Ercan Madenci et al. demonstrated the effectiveness of massage when it comes to symptom relief in this condition. (6)
Castor oil can be used as a cure for symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome because of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. As a natural analgesic, it can provide instant pain relief. Castor oil owes its anti-inflammatory properties to its high ricinoleic acid content. (7)
Things you will need:
Castor oil - 1 teaspoon
Lavender essential oil - 3 drops
Step 1. Pour and mix the castor oil and the lavender essential oil in a bowl
Pour castor oil into a bowl.
Add lavender essential oil to it.
Mix the two using a spatula
Step 2. Gently massage the mixture on the wrists
Using your fingers, apply the mixture to the affected area.
Rub the said area while applying adequate pressure.
Method 6: Cold compress
A cold compress is a popular way of dealing with muscular pain. It works by numbing the affected area and decreasing swelling. It is thus an effective way of combating the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome. (7) (8)
Things you will need:
One zip pouch bag which can be sealed
Ice cubes – 5 to 6 cubes
Step 1. Prepare the cold pack by sealing the cubes in the bag
Put the ice cubes in the zip pouch.
Seal it and make it airtight.
Place a hand towel on your wrist.
Put the ice pack on it.
Leave it on for some time until you feel a numbing sensation.
Method 7: Acupuncture
Acupuncture is traditionally seen as an effective way of dealing with pain. It works by correcting the energy flow in the body. The underlying assumption is that the body can heal itself provided that there are no interruptions in the flow of energy.
Recent research conducted in 2012 demonstrated the success of acupuncture in alleviating the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. (4) The experiment performed on 64 patients showed that acupuncture decreased the pain and discomfort associated with the condition. (7)
Visit a professional acupuncturist to get consultation on carpal tunnel syndrome and its pain relief management.
Method 8: Blackstrap Molasses
Another anecdotal remedy is blackstrap molasses, which is rich in magnesium and acts as a muscle relaxant. By relaxing tensed muscles, it helps relieve the pressure on the median vein. Blackstrap molasses are also a good source of vitamin B, calcium, and potassium, which improve blood circulation and strengthen the muscles.
Things you will need:
Warm milk – 1 cup
Blackstrap molasses – 2 tablespoons
Single-Step Method: Mix blackstrap molasses and warm milk in a cup
Pour the blackstrap molasses into a cup containing warm milk.
Mix the two well using a spatula.
Drink this mixture every day.
Tips to get relief from carpal tunnel syndrome
Using a splinter or a brace to hold your wrists in a neutral position helps in managing this syndrome.
Talk to your employer about your problem. You may ask for a redesign of your workspace so that uncomfortable positions are avoided.
If the nature of your work requires you to flex your wrists repeatedly, take frequent breaks.
Burton C, Chesterton LS, Davenport G. Diagnosing and managing carpal tunnel syndrome in primary care. British Journal of General Practice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4001168/. Published May 2014.
Harshman MR, Aldoori W. Carpal tunnel syndrome, and vitamin B6. Canadian Family Physician. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1949298/. Published July 2007.
Exercise advice: carpal tunnel syndrome. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. https://www.csp.org.uk/public-patient/rehabilitation-exercises/carpal-tunnel-syndrome.
Khosrawi S, Moghtaderi A, Haghighat S. Acupuncture in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial study. Journal of research in medical sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23248650. Published January 2012.
Di G, Caccese AF, Caruso L, Soldati A, Passaretti U. Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome with alpha-lipoic acid. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19499849. Published 2009.
Madenci E, Altindag O, Koca I, Yilmaz M, Gur A. Reliability and efficacy of the new massage technique on the treatment in the patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Rheumatology International. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21953301. Published October 2012.
Carpal tunnel syndrome. Penn State Hershey Health Information Library. http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000031. Published November 19, 2016.
Cryotherapy (Cold Therapy) for Pain Management. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/orthopaedic_disorders/cryotherapy_cold_therapy_for_pain_management_134,95.
Talebi M, Andalib S, Bakhti S, Ayromlou H, Aghili A, Talebi A. Effect of Vitamin B6 on Clinical Symptoms and ... Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3848223/. Published December 2013.
Pajardi G, Bortot P, Ponti V, Novelli C. Clinical Usefulness of Oral Supplementation with Alpha lipoic. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3915925/. Published January 19, 2014.
Wipperman J, Goerl K. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Diagnosis and Management. American Family Physician. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28075090. Published December 15, 2016.