Relieving the Pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
For adults who work with their hands, Carpal tunnel can be a painful condition to live with. If you type on a keyboard or write letters, drive, or do other tasks that require repetitive motion, you could be affected by Carpal tunnel syndrome, a compression of the nerves in the wrist that affects the thumb and first four fingers of the hand. This common neuropathic condition affects roughly 4% of the adult population.
Carpal tunnel is a neuropathic condition, which means it affects the nerves of the wrist and hand. The cause of this condition is repetitive movement, such as when typing (holding the wrist in a specific position for several hours per day) or performing the same hand movements over and over all day long. The two professions who are at risk for this condition are typists and transcriptionists.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel:
- Feeling of a hand falling asleep, numbness, tingling
- Trouble holding onto things, weakness
- Electric impulses in the fingers
- Tingling in the fingers and hand that moves up the arm
Facts About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- The passageway of ligament and bones located in the wrist is called the carpal tunnel. This passage holds the median nerve, which connects the forearm to the palm and fingers, which is why the pain can be felt in the hand and arm.
- According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the median nerve provides electrical impulses or sensations to the palm and fingers, which allow them to move freely. When this nerve is compressed (inflamed and swollen), the pressure on the nerve causes numbness and loss of feeling, which can cause you to drop things or have difficulty holding a cup or other objects. If the nerve is compressed for a long time, it can result in nerve damage.
This passageway for the nerves is very narrow, which is why it is prone to swelling. Overuse of the joints, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, medications, and hormonal changes can cause stress to the system resulting in inflammation in the area.
Another profession affected by Carpal tunnel syndrome is construction workers who use jackhammers and other tools that vibrate and require holding with heavy pressure.
Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Current treatments for Carpal tunnel include surgery, medications, and the use of a hand brace. These treatment options are expensive and often risky, with the person affected losing some of the flexibility or movement in the wrist along with possible nerve damage and scar tissue. For some people, surgery may feel like the only option, but you should at least try other options and make surgery a last resort.
How Doctors Diagnose The Condition
- Medical history
- Physical examination
- Hand x-ray
- Nerve conduction study
Tips to Relieve Pain and Swelling Without Surgery
The primary purpose of treating Carpal tunnel is to prevent nerve damage and retain mobility in the wrist and hands. If you are experiencing pain in the hands and fingers, you should see your doctor right away for a diagnosis. The earlier you begin treating the condition, the better off you will be.
If you want to opt for treating the condition without surgery, and many people do, start employing procedures to reduce swelling, pain, and pressure on the median nerve.
- Take frequent breaks to let the hands rest.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
- Make sure your workspace is ergonomically structured.
- Wear a hand brace when sleeping and working. These can be found over-the-counter at most drugstores or pharmacies.
- Take NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen or Advil
- Do stretches to keep the fingers flexible and encourage blood flow to the area. Rotate your wrists and stretch your palms and fingers frequently throughout the day.
- Acupuncture and chiropractic care, as well as yoga and meditation, may help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
- Essential oils like lavender, wintergreen, peppermint, and cypress can help reduce pain and swelling.
Give hands a break: Because this condition is a result of an overuse injury, the first thing you should do to relieve the pain and inflammation is to lessen the time you spend working and change hand positions frequently. If you’re not able to change hand positions, another tip is to take frequent breaks and let your hands rest in between.
Use a brace: A hand brace can relieve some of the pressure on the wrist and make using the hand less painful. Pain is caused by inflammation (swelling) in the area where these nerves enter the hand. Inflammation puts pressure on the nerves, which causes the tingling and numbness in the fingers.
Lavender essential oil is an anti-inflammatory: Essential oils like lavender may help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. They are natural and have no side effects or worry about medication compatibility.
Stretching exercises: Stretching and finger dexterity exercises may help keep blood flowing to the area without causing inflammation.
Combining these tips and using them regularly can help you retain mobility and flexibility while reducing pain and swelling.
A Word About Essential Oils:
One of the best topical treatments for carpal tunnel pain relief is essential oils. They have been used for thousands of years by the ancient people to heal various conditions and reduce pain and swelling. Two essential oils that are the most effective are wintergreen oil and cypress oil.
- Wintergreen essential oil has a cooling effect, which helps relieve pain and swelling faster than an ice pack.
- Cypress oil helps speed healing because it increases circulation and blood flow.
- Combine cypress and wintergreen oils with something for a little fragrance like orange or lavender. Mix 3 – 4 drops of this into some coconut oil for a pain relief rub. Apply it to the inflamed area 1-3 times daily.
- Other essential oils that increase tissue repair are peppermint and frankincense. Peppermint and frankincense together make a powerful anti-inflammatory oil.
Surgery is the permanent treatment for Carpal tunnel syndrome but carries the risk of nerve damage, a painful scar, and reduced mobility of the hand. Treating the condition with natural remedies first may reduce or eliminate the need for surgery. It is always recommended to try the least invasive treatment first.
Essential Oils for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Using essential oils for carpal tunnel will provide some relief of pain and inflammation. Because of the therapeutic benefits of essential oils, carpal tunnel can be treated at home easily in relieving symptoms in reducing aches, numbness, pain, and itching.
Below is a brief list of a few essential oils that you can use for carpal tunnel:
- Marjoram essential oil – relieves pain and inflammation.
- Lavender essential oil – relaxes muscles while calming the mind and helps with sleep.
- Eucalyptus essential oil – beneficial in aches and pain.
- Lemongrass essential oil – assists in healing tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues.
- Peppermint essential oil – reduces inflammation and aids in bringing instant colling relief.
How To Use: Use 2-3 drops of the oils above. Dilute with a carrier oil and apply it to your hands.
Carpal Tunnel Treatment | Essential Oils for Carpal TunnelMy son might have carpal tunnel syndrome from lifting heavy boxes at his job at college. He has been on various treatment with pain killers, muscle relaxers, and nothing is working. I made a roller bottle essential oil blend using essential oils good for inflammation, pain, and for bone spurs. The doctor who saw the MRI said he wasn't sure if it was a bone spur or hairline fracture.
Carpal Tunnel Essential Oil Blend
2 drops Cypress
2 drops Lemongrass
2 drops Marjoram
2 drops Peppermint
2 drops Wintergreen
1 teaspoon Fractionated Coconut Oil
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