Our bodies were never intended to work at the computers for hours, nor do the same repetitive task day in and day out. Poor diet, posture, lack of exercise, repetitive hand tasks, and genetic predisposition can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Numbness, tingling, and sharp pain in one or both hands characterize this excruciating condition, which can significantly disrupt your ability to work and quality of life.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The meridian nerve controls the movement of the thumb and first three fingers. Symptoms are pain, weakness or numbness in the hand and wrist radiating up the arm. Carpal tunnel takes years to develop. Over time, the loss or weakening of small hand muscles make doing everyday tasks with hands difficult and uncomfortable.
Who is at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome?
Women are 3 times as likely to develop this common condition as men. Smaller wrists and hormonal fluctuations and pregnancy, make women more likely to experience this uncomfortable condition. The dominant hand is usually affected first and produces the most severe pain. Persons with diabetes or other metabolic disorders that directly affect the body's nerves and make them more susceptible to compression are also at high risk. Prior injury, arthritis, thyroid conditions, and fluid retention are additional contributing factors.
People who do repetitive physical work with their hands are vulnerable to this condition. Sewing, working with vibrating power tools, computer work, manufacturing (especially in cold conditions,) large scale gardening, and cleaning day in and day out can lead to carpal tunnel.
How can we prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
Catching carpal tunnel syndrome early and being aware that you might be at risk for it due to your work, health conditions, and gender will help you avoid this condition with a few precautions.
- Move as much as you can at work. Avoid using your hands and arms in a repetitive task for longer than 45 minutes. Take breaks and stretch and look to structure your time at work in a way that allows you to diversify your movements.
- Keep hands and forearms warm, especially if working in cold conditions. People who have cold hands are more prone to developing carpal tunnel. Keep your circulation strong with movement and massage.
- Change your workstation so that it is ergonomic. Computer should be at eye level to take pressure of neck and shoulders, and arms parallel with desk. Avoid extending or bending wrists. If your work is more manual, look for ways to mix up your work movements so that different parts of your body can be used throughout the day.
- Minimize strong grasping while wrist is flexed and or working with wrists in bent position. Keep wrists straight when using tools.
- Do exercises that will strengthen and stretch wrists. Focus on circulation. Circle wrists, pull fingers back and then press hands forward to stretch wrists, wiggle fingers and then spread them out to create mobility and circulation in hand joints. Aim to keep forearms and shoulders relaxed. Yoga has been proven to be an effective prevention tool and healing modality for carpal tunnel.
- Avoid or decrease foods and activities that create inflammation: tobacco, alcohol, sugar, and refined wheat. Avoid excess sodium leads to prevent fluid retention. Saturated fats in meats such as bacon, sausage, and cheese can slow circulation.
- Eat an antioxidant diet rich in omega-3s, vitamins B1 and B6, leafy greens, fish oil, berries, colorful vegetables, naturally sourced fish and pasture raised meats, and whole grains. Chia seeds, flax, walnuts, herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cayenne, and turmeric will help prevent and relieve inflammation. Fresh pineapple may ward off carpal tunnel syndrome because it has an enzyme in it called bromelain that can break down inflammation.
How can we relieve carpal tunnel syndrome naturally?
- Immediately adjust work habits, posture, nutrition, and add stretching and circulation to forearms, wrists, and hands if you detect the onset of carpal tunnel symptoms. It is much easier to relieve carpal tunnel in beginning stages. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
- Schedule an appointment for massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic care. We have seen great results with deep tissue massage and myofascial release. Magnetic cupping gives tremendous relief. Our Pain Away Package with a focus on carpal tunnel would be a perfect and healing escape from the pain.
- Splint wrist to keep it straight while working and sleeping. Splinting will bring the wrist into neutral position, take pressure of the median nerve, and help it heal naturally.
- Relieve pain and inflammation with ice packs and Deep Blue lotion. Arnica and essential oils provide relief as well. Peppermint oil for pain, cypress oil for circulation, helichrysum oil for pain, and frankincense oil to decrease inflammation are common recommendations.
- Rest hands and wrists from the activity that caused the pain. Drink lots of water. Eat a healing diet with bone broth and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, supplement with magnesium, vitamins B 1 and 6, and relax. Most people heal carpal tunnel naturally.
Book a massage appointment today. Booking a massage appointment at Zama Massage Therapeutic Spa gives you one on one time with a licensed and trained massage therapist who will answer your carpal tunnel concerns as well as give you tips on how you can further treat yourself at home.