Carpal tunnel syndrome is classified as entrapment neuropathy, and is one of the most common to occur. It occurs when the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel - an opening in the wrist formed by the carpal bones and the transverse carpal ligament at the wrist. The median nerve provides the sensory and motor functions for the thumb and the three middle fingers
Symptoms of the conditions can include:
- Weakness when gripping objects with one or both hands
- Pain or numbness in one or both hands
- Pins and needles in the fingers
- Swollen feeling in the fingers
- Burning or tingling in the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers
- Pain or numbness which is worse at night, and can interrupt sleep
There are three classifications to the condition:
Stage 1: Numbness, pain and tingling, occurring mainly at night, which can be relieved by shaking the hand. The affected hands are often characterized by stiffness in the morning.
Stage 2: Symptoms also occur during the day from prolonged positions or repetitive hand movement. Weakness often develops, and it can be common to drop things.
Stage 3: Characterised by atrophy/irreversible weakening of the muscles. Tingling may no longer be present due to the severity of the condition.
Whilst there is no specific cause, the following can lead to the condition:
- Frequent, repetitive, small movements with the hands (i.e. typing or using a keyboard)
- Frequent, repetitive, grasping movements with the hands (i.e. sports and certain physical activities)
- Joint or bone disease (e.g. arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Hormonal or metabolic changes (e.g. menopause, pregnancy, thyroid imbalance)
- Changes in blood sugar levels
- Strain, sprain, dislocation, break, or swelling and inflammation)
- Family history of carpal tunnel syndrome
Treatment for the condition is dependent on age, severity, medical history, personal preference, how one tolerates treatment therapies, and how bad the condition is expected to become.
Treatment(s) can include: splinting the wrist, anti-inflammatory medications, work and lifestyle changes, exercise and surgery,
Ayurvedic Approach to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Ayurveda has no single condition that refers specifically to carpal tunnel syndrome. There are, however, conditions that have a close resemblance to CTS in the upper limbs.
In addition to the above listed causes, Ayurveda also lists inappropriate diet and lifestyle habits/factors, which can also contribute to the condition.
Doshic involvement (and the extent of each) will depend on causative factors leading to the condition as well as the stage of development. According to Ayurveda, Vata will be involved in the condition (pain, tingling, numbness etc), as well as either Pitta (inflammation) and/or Kapha (swelling, oedema).
BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME:
Vata Pitta Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, punarnava, bala, shallaki, shatavari, kapikacchu
Vata Kapha Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, punarnava, bala, shallaki, ashwaganda, rasna, gulggulu, garlic, ashwaganda
Pitta Vata Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, punarnava, bala, shallaki, shatavari, kapikacchu
Pitta Kapha Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, punarnava, bala, shallaki
Kapha Vata Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, punarnava, bala, shallaki, ashwaganda, rasna, guggulu, garlic, ashwaganda
Kapha Pitta Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, punarnava, bala, shallaki
Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:
General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:
- One should eat the foods that one does not react to.
- One should eat according to the digestive capacity, keeping meals light, cooked, warm moist and easy to digest. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
- One should eat at regular times/intervals. Avoid skipping meals.
- One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods.
- Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks, high fat foods, greasy foods. Minimise the intake of hot chilli type foods.
- One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal and eat only if hungry. If digestion is poor, then 4 light meals per day is advisable in place of three regular meals.
- Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
- A small amount of buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
- Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
- Water should be drunk warm in the cooler months and room temperature in the summer months. Avoid chilled water.
- Use all of the five senses at mealtimes. Savour the food that you are eating.
- Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
- Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly.
General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:
- Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
- Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day.
- Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid over-exertion. Warm up prior to exercise. Do not increase amount of exercise to the wrists or hands.
- Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension. Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
- Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.
- Make sure to be well rugged up in winter, especially when going outside.
- Avoid smoking and minimise alcohol and caffeine intake.
- One should avoid constipation and supressing natural urges (passing stools, gas, burping etc).
- Keep hands as much as possible in neutral position.
- Use whole hand/arm to lift and hold things.
- Adjust movements and avoid repetitive stress. Make work modifications as much as possible to avoid any further development of the condition.
- Stop any activity that causes numbness and pain
- Try sleeping with the hands straight (not curled) at night.
- Look at stretching exercises for the wrist and hands.
If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.