Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common and often disabling condition most often associated with data entry and general computer use, but it can affect anyone who performs repetitive hand motions. CTS occurs in women more often than men and is a relatively common temporary complication of pregnancy (due to fluid retention). It also occurs frequently among people with rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes .
CTS is caused by compression of the median nerve. On its way to the hand, the median nerve passes through an opening in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. Constant, repetitive hand motion may aggravate the ligaments and tendons encased in the tunnel, causing them to swell. As the tunnel walls close in, they compress the median nerve. This causes tingling and numbness in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. The discomfort of CTS often wakes people during the night and eventually makes it difficult to grasp small objects.
Proposed Natural Treatments
There are no natural treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome that have any meaningful supporting evidence. Those that have been scientifically evaluated to any extent at all include vitamin B 6 , yoga , and magnet therapy .
Vitamin B 6
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The bottom line: Because vitamin B 6 has not been proven effective and may be harmful in high doses, we do not recommend it for carpal tunnel syndrome.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Vitamin B 6 article.
However, this study has a serious flaw: participants in the control group were simply offered the wrist splint and given the choice of using it or not. It would have been preferable for them to have received an option with more “glamour,” such as fake laser acupuncture, or, even better, phony yoga postures. Experience from numerous studies shows that when people believe they are receiving an effective treatment, they report improvement, regardless of the nature of the treatment. (See, for example, the magnet therapy study described below.)
For more information on hatha yoga, see the full Yoga article.
For more information on magnet therapy, see the full Magnet Therapy article.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -