Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common entrapment neuropathy, or peripheral nerve-pinching medical condition, and it results from a combination of compression and traction on the median nerve at the wrist. Pills rarely serve as a solution, and while surgical treatment for CTS has an 80 to 90 percent satisfaction rate, many people don’t opt for surgery.
The bottom line: You do not want to see this nerve die because of lack of treatment. My favorite advice to prevent CTS is to adopt heart-healthy behaviors (heart healthy = wrist healthy!). Shocker, I know. People with diabetes and obesity have a higher risk of CTS. There’s a theory that fat tissue in the arm can compress the median nerve, which makes sense.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand. When the median nerve is compressed, the symptoms can include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm.
The anatomy of your wrist, health problems and possibly repetitive hand motions can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Proper treatment usually relieves the tingling and numbness and restores wrist and hand function.
Home Remedies For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
ALA at 600 milligrams per day has a history of reducing nerve injury (see the Peripheral Neuropathy section) in people with diabetes and possibly cancer patients. And because of these results, ALA is now getting some preliminary research as a neuroprotectant early in the course of CTS or before and after surgery. Talk to your doctor about the latest research. Just be warned: It can cause a harmless malodorous urine smell (like asparagus does) and increase the risk of rash and itching, and it can also increase insulin levels and drastically drop blood sugar levels in very rare cases.
What Supplements Are Useless For Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Some experts still recommend vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), but I don’t think it works. There was an early theory that CTS may be due to a B6 deficiency, but well-done clinical trials have shown that it doesn’t work better than a placebo.
Plus, taking high doses of B6 (300 milligrams or more per day) can cause sensory peripheral nerve injury (a loss of sensation that increases your risk of falling or losing your balance) and tingling or numbness, and it can increase the risk of an unsteady gait.
I believe the reason some people still think B6 can help is related to the fact that a minority of CTS patients get better on their own (the body’s own repair mechanisms are amazing). So when this happens in people taking B6, their recovery is attributed to the supplement. If you and your doctor believe it will work, then taking 200 milligrams or less for several months may be a good placebo.