Alternative Medicines for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an inflammation of the nerve that runs from the forearm to the fingers, as a result of the nerve being squeezed in the tunnel of wrist bones (carpals) and ligaments (the tissues that connect bones). It can be caused by repetitive wrist motion (such as typing), sudden weight gain, or fluid accumulation.


Homeopathy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Homeopathic medicine works to treat carpal tunnel syndrome by giving highly diluted, nontoxic doses of a natural substance that would produce the same aching symptoms if given in full strength to a healthy person. The substances are taken from plant, mineral, or animal sources. To tailor a remedy for carpal tunnel syndrome, a classical homeopath questions the patient on the symptoms and assesses the general state of physical and emotional health. Using these clues, the remedy is then individualized to the patient. The following are some carpal tunnel syndrome characteristics to consider:

  • When is the pain at its worst? Before or after movement?
  • Does cold or heat ease the pain?
  • Where on the body do the symptoms occur? On fingers, wrists, hands, arms, shoulders?

Some typical remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome are causticum, colchicum autumnale, hypericum perfoliatum, ruta graveolens, and rhus toxicodendron.


Herbal Medicine for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Several herbs can provide relief by reducing inflammation. The flowering tops of St. John's wort, when applied to the skin as a cream, can ease inflammation of muscles and connective tissues. Meadowsweet leaves and flower tops and white willow bark also act as anti-inflammatory agents, which can relieve pain. (Both of these herbs contain a substance that is found in a synthesized form in aspirin.) Turmeric is also used for its anti-inflammatory properties. Herbal therapy seeks to ease, not deaden, the pain, as pain serves the important role of signaling you to rest your wrist. A sample herbal remedy for carpal tunnel syndrome might be to apply St. John's wort cream to the wrists.


Nutritional Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Nutritional therapy can be used to fortify the body, treating and preventing wrist problems. Several studies have shown that many people with carpal tunnel syndrome are deficient in vitamin B6 and that daily supplementation can ease the painful, tingling, and numbing symptoms. The vitamin treatment -- sometimes combined with a high-potency B-complex supplement -- can take about two months before it begins to work.

It is believed that certain seemingly unrelated dietary factors contribute to this vitamin deficiency, including high-protein diets, eating foods that contain yellow (hydrazine) dyes, and the use of oral contraceptives. These contributing factors should be avoided. In general, a sound diet should emphasize whole grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetables. Avoid excess protein and limit intake of sugars and caffeine.


A form of nutritional therapy called enzyme therapy may also be useful. Supplementation with the pineapple-derived enzyme bromelain has proved helpful for some patients. The enzyme is taken in capsules between meals.

A naturopathic physician may prescribe high doses of vitamin B6. High doses of this vitamin, however, may be toxic, so a physician's monitoring is required.


Other Therapies for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Acupressure for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome -- Pressure applied to specific points, often on the wrist or the meridians of the large and small intestines, can relieve pain.
  • Bodywork for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome -- Gentle wrist exercises and neck stretches can ease the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome and help release the pinched nerve.
  • Chiropractic Medicine for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome -- Spinal manipulation can relieve the compressed wrist nerves.
  • Hydrotherapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome -- Cold compresses or alternating hot and cold compresses can provide relief.
  • Hypnotherapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome -- Trances employ the mind and body to reverse carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Neural Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome -- Injections of anesthetics, at certain points of the body, may treat the pain of chronic carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Osteopathy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome -- Manual procedures can restore function to the wrist.


For more information on carpal tunnel syndrome and alternative medicine, see: