Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Naturally With Diet and Lifestyle Modifications

The nerve condition Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common upper limb nerve diseases or dysfunctions. [1-5] Its estimated prevalence is about 4% of the population, with more women suffering from it at a ratio of 3 females to 1male.

Other risk factors besides being female include obesity, diabetes, pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, connective tissue diseases, fluid retention, and genetic predisposition. Repetitive hand/wrist use is not necessarily a risk factor.

CTS causes numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers. It occurs when the median nerve, housed in the carpal tunnel, becomes pressed at the wrist. The median nerve provides feeling from the forearm to the palm side of the thumb and fingers. When irritated surrounding tendons compress the nerve, the result is a lack of sensation, tingling, or pain in the fingers.

While inflammation and swelling are not apparent, many people with CST say their fingers feel swollen.

Chronic pain often leads to psychological symptoms in patients. Clinical anxiety and clinical depression are significantly more common in patients with CTS compared with controls. [6-8]

Identifying the single cause of CTS is challenging; therefore, treatment types vary and include non-surgical, surgical, and alternative methods.

Some common non-surgical treatments include splinting, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and prescription medicines. CTS surgeries include open release surgery and endoscopic surgery. Because over-the-counter and prescription medications have potentially harmful side effects and the seriousness of invasive surgery, many people with CTS would prefer to explore dietary and natural remedies. 

Here are dietary and other natural CTS treatment options to consider:

Increase Vitamin B6 Intake

Vitamin B6 is involved in several metabolic pathways of neural function. In the 1970s, CTS studies began to examine the potential benefit of treating CTS with vitamin B6. Results showed that vitamin B6 could improve symptoms of CTS because of an underlying nerve condition not previously diagnosed that may be related to vitamin B6 deficiency or that vitamin B6 acts as an analgesic by raising pain thresholds. [9-15]

Although none of the 14 studies provided level 1 evidence, and many supportive studies involved only a few subjects, I still recommend vitamin B6 supplementation, especially since it helps reduce pain and B6 deficiency is linked to CTS. The recommended dose is 25-50 mg a day which you may consume through healthy foods rich in this vitamin, such as non-GMO soya bean products, bananas, peanuts, whole grain wheat, and oats.

If you decide to take vitamin B6 as a supplement, be wary of side effects at high doses, such as nerve problems, depression, fatigue, impaired memory, irritability, headaches, difficulty walking, and bloating. [16]

These toxicity symptoms will go away when you decrease the dosage of this vitamin.

Increase Vitamin D intake

Since CTS leads to chronic pain and psychological issues, and vitamin D is neuroprotective, scientists investigated vitamin D deficiency.

The findings showed that vitamin D deficiency was considerably more prevalent in patients with CTS (95.8%) than controls (22.9%).

Also, statistical analysis showed that vitamin D deficiency is one of the independent risk factors of CTS.

The study concluded that low vitamin D levels might trigger CTS symptoms. [6]

Supplementing with vitamin D reduces neurological injury, protects neurons from oxidative stress through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [17-18].  

Vitamin D deficiency also leads to less intestinal calcium absorption.

I recommend supplementing with 100-2000 IU of vitamin D daily in locations with no sufficient skin exposure to UVB light and people who do not often leave the house or leave the house when their body is fully covered. 

Check out my article on Vitamin D here for more information.

Take Antioxidant Supplements

Alpha-lipoic is commonly used for nerve pain. It is an antioxidant with neuroprotective activities. Alpha-lipoic acid may lead to a significant improvement in clinical outcomes. 

The effectiveness of alpha-lipoic acid as an antioxidant and neuroprotectant increases with curcumin [19-25]. 

Taking vitamin C for its antioxidant and protective effects on tendons is also beneficial. [26] 

Smoking delays healing due to its toll on antioxidant levels. It is advisable to stop smoking to allow for a speedy recovery with these recommended supplements. 

Increase Omega-3 Fatty Acid intake

A study on the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids on 28 patients with mild to moderate CTS showed that increasing intake of omega 3 fatty acid-rich foods reduced CTS-related numbness and pain. [27]

An excellent way to include omega-3 EPA DHA in your diet is by taking sage or sea plant supplements rich in omega 3 fatty acids or increasing your intake of food sources high in omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.

* All of these supplement recommendations must be adhered to for a minimum period of 3 to 6 months.

Natural Therapies

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing practice that involves inserting very thin needles through the skin. Acupuncture for people with carpal tunnel syndrome is said to reduce symptoms, particularly chronic pain.

In a study published in the National Library of Medicine on the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture for CTS, 26 CTS patients received acupuncture and electroacupuncture treatments for six weeks. An evaluation program showed a significant increase in the patients’ grip strength, motor amplitude, and a decrease in CTS-related symptoms. [28]

Yoga is also believed to be an effective CTS intervention because the poses require stretching to relieve compression on the median nerve. Yoga practices also help develop better posture.

In a randomized trial studying yoga-based intervention for CTS, 42 adults with carpal tunnel syndrome participated in an 8-week study. The program involved 11 yoga postures for the upper body aimed to strengthen and stretch joints. The results showed improvements in grip strength and pain intensity. The researchers also recorded claims of pain reduction. [29]

Takeaway

Because of over the counter and prescription medicine’s potential side effects and the invasive nature of the surgery, supplementing with vitamin B6, D, C, E, alpha-lipoic acid, curcumin, and omega-3 fatty acids have shown to have significant clinical effects for CTS and forms the best first line of treatment. 

Furthermore, in CTS surgery, oral supplementation with these supplements before and after the surgery also holds significant benefits. [30]

A change in diet, supplement intake, and lifestyle modifications are empowering and have evidence to lessen the symptoms and cure the disease.

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References 

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