What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common neuro-compressive disease in the world  and may bring to mind images of office workers pounding on keyboards day-in and day-out. But we've also had patients whose condition result from having a low functioning thyroid! As well as people with varying occupations which put them at risk, such as electricians and plumbers. And did you know gender can be a risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome? One study in China found women could be four times more likely to get the condition!

CTS may be defined as a unilateral or bilateral paresthesia, which is a disturbed sensation of pain, tingle or numbness, in the first three digits and the lateral half of the fourth digit of the hand. It results from compression of the median nerve, which innervates those specific regions of the hand. The compression of the median nerve is prone to happen, with repetitive over-use and/or other risk factors, within the 'carpal tunnel', a narrow passage enclosed by the transverse carpal ligament on one side. It is this transverse carpal ligament which gets severed in surgical procedures to alleviate CTS.

 

The pain of CTS may be felt in one or more areas including the wrist, palm, or forearm in the vicinity of compression. This may be a result of 'axonal retrograde degeneration', which is a form of damage to the median nerve.(2) When this happens, loss of strength may occur, and opposition of the thumb and atrophy of the opponens pollicis muscle may develop, as well as loss of fine motor skills.

Mild CTS often presents with intermittent symptoms while severe CTS may result in permanent loss of sensation and even paralysis of the thumb.

                   

 

Why use integrative medicine to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Often the cause for CTS may not be identified by conventional practitioners, who may be only considering the gross structural environment without regard for finer contributing factors. Within these cases, some researchers have found decreased vitamin B6 levels, while others have seen evidence of collagen dysplasia with an accumulation of disorganized connective tissue within the transverse carpal ligament. Yet another contributing cause of CTS may be inflammation of the outer layer of the affected connective tissue itself.

        Support for people at risk of CTS

Manual Manipulation and Stretching for CTS

Physical manipulation of subluxations, or partial dislocations, of the carpal bones in the wrist is another way to achieve relief for CTS. These techniques, as well as separation of the larger bones in the forearm, namely the distal radius and ulna, may relieve pressure in the carpal tunnel, thereby relieving impingement of the median nerve.

Low-Level Laser Therapy for CTS

For decades, low-level laser therapy (LLLT) has been applied in the treatment of many musculoskeletal and neurologic conditions and received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the treatment of several, including CTS.

Acupuncture for CTS

In a study of acupuncture treatment of CTS, a positive response was demonstrated in 35 of 36 patients, 14 of whom were previously treated unsuccessfully with surgery!

Nutritional Supplements for CTS

Clinical evidence on vitamin B6's nerve regenerative function was found from a human study in patients with CTS, in which vitamin B6 treatment increased the conduction velocity of sensory nerves and thus reduced clinical symptoms.

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Support for patients with ADHD

A naturopathic approach to treating someone with ADD/ADHD depends on other factors that may give me insight as to what may be contributing to their symptoms. For some, I’ll do food sensitivity testing, for other’s a gut restoration program, for other’s I may support the adrenal glands, for other’s I may test their neurotransmitters being excreted in the urine and use clinical nutrition to help the individual rebalance there
neurotransmitters.

 Neurotransmitter testing & balancing

Nerve cells send messages via electrical signals and the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters. Medical science has discovered that neurotransmitters are at the foundation of many psychiatric and neurological disorders. Imbalances in neurotransmission , due to excessive or deficient levels, are associated with many brain-related concerns. Thankfully, their levels can be measured in a non-invasive way using a urine collection. When abnormalities are discovered, nutritional supplements can be used to influence neurotransmission. Nutritional neuromodulators include various amino acids, standardized herbal extracts, vitamins, minerals, and phospholipid derivatives.

     

Nutrient deficiency testing

Various essential fatty acids and minerals have been shown to be low in patients with ADHD. These can often be tested in multiple ways including blood, urine, or hair.

Exploring neurotoxins

 A wide variety of compounds can have effects on the central nervous system including man-made chemicals, heavy metals, infectious disease and inflammatory foods, to name a few. In many cases it is advisable to seek beyond the snapshot of neurotransmitter activity and consider what may be provoking the imbalance from a more fundamental level.