Reader’s Question: I’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in my left wrist. My doctor said that the only way to correct the problem is surgery. I’m hoping that you can suggest a natural alternative!
Dr. Glenn Rothfeld: Carpal tunnel syndrome is considered the most prevalent form of peripheral neuropathy, but I think it’s more accurate to call it “repetitive stress injury.”
After all, it happens to writers, pianists, factory workers, and anyone else who repeats the same motion over and over again.
And the worst thing you can do is continue to perform those repetitive movements, since that can cause permanent damage to your nerves, tendons, ligaments, or bones in your wrists.
So, as with many other conditions, I urge my patients to determine the cause of the condition and to eliminate it or modify it so as not to cause continuous and compound injury.
However, although I generally try to do whatever it takes to help my patients avoid going under the knife, an orthopedist may rightfully insist on surgery for some cases of carpal tunnel, especially if nerve compression plays a role or if a deformity has occurred.
Of course, before opting for surgery, I’d try all the basics first – including braces, bands, splints, and other supports.
And if it turns out to be a more severe case, that’s when I’d get a little creative. Here are three complementary approaches you can ry:
1. Acupuncture can relieve some of the distress caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, something that, as a certified medical acupuncturist, I’ve seen firsthand. The NIH has even come to a consensus on this “needle therapy,” admitting that it can have therapeutic effects… and declaring it an “acceptable alternative” to surgery.
2. For short-term pain relief, the traditional practice of cupping has shown to improve symptoms related to carpal tunnel. Cupping is taught at modern acupuncture schools, and many acupuncture clinics will offer cupping as well.
3. Some people also find relief in the ancient practice of yoga, although I find it to be somewhat stressful on the wrists unless you’re in a programme specifically designed for your injury.
If all this sounds a bit too alternative for you, you might be tempted to reach for the pain pills you’ve got in the medicine cabinet – but those can cause stomach upset and even long-term damage to your kidneys and heart.
One alternative I use on my patients is something called Serraflazyme, a purified version of a naturally-occurring enzyme that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. And because it’s enterically coated, it’s not associated with the same gastrointestinal side effects as the more commonly-used painkillers on the market.
Finally, medical thermography monitors of thermal abnormalities present in physical injuries like carpal tunnel that create pockets of painful (and hot!) inflammation.
It’s a good way to monitor how well any given therapy is working on the inside of your body (besides whether or not you actually feel better).
What’s on your mind? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I may choose your question to answer next week!
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing