Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a painful, debilitating condition of the wrist, considered primarily as a workplace injury. The most widely recognized cause of CTS is repetitive motion, such as typing, some manufacturing tasks, handling of tools, etc. With the recent advent of computer use, cases of CTS have risen by 10% each year. Because CTS is the leading work-related injury in terms if lost workdays, the total cost to American industry is estimated at $21 billion.

The carpal tunnel is an opening in the bones of the wrist through which nerves and tendons pass. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by swelling in the wrist, resulting in compression of the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel to the hand. Symptoms include pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the hand and arm, and can in more severe cases lead to an inability to grasp and hold objects. Recommended preventative measures usually include avoidance of repetitive motion through job rotation; better, more ergonomic workplace environments; and special hand and finger exercises. Treatment for CTS may include anti-inflammatory drugs, occupational therapy, wrist splints, and surgery. Surgery has been the preferred treatment of most doctors in moderate to severe cases. However, some recent studies are indicating that surgery may be an overused treatment, and that less invasive treatments can be significantly effective.

One of the most surprising of these findings is that a deficiency in Vitamin B6 may be associated with increased risk of CTS, and that Vitamin B6 supplements may be an effective treatment in some cases. It had long been recognized that pregnant or menopausal women, women taking oral contraceptives, and diabetics seemed more prone to CTS. Recognizing that these factors are associated with a deficiency in Vitamin B6, some doctors began testing Vitamin B6 therapy for people with CTS, and found results to be favorable. It is thought that a deficiency in the vitamin may lead to reduced effectiveness of collagen and elastin fibrils, which are needed to bind tissues together. It is recommended that people with CTS try taking 200 mg of Vitamin B6 daily for 90 days, and then reduce to 100 mg per day. Adults with diabetes may take up to 300 mg daily for the first 90 days. Some doctors point out that Vitamin B2 supplements enhance the effectiveness of Vitamin B6. Excessive doses of B vitamins can be harmful over an extended period of time, so stick to the recommended dosage.

Another recent study suggests that the use of wrist splints for relief of CTS may be more effective than previously thought. In this study, patients with CTS who wore special CTS wrist braces either all the time or at night for six weeks experienced marked improvement in symptoms and nerve function. Surprisingly, even severe cases responded favorably. Full-time use was more effective, and it was pointed out that only wrist braces designed for CTS, that hold the wrist in a neutral position, were shown to be effective.

Careway Wellness Center carries a complete line of supports and braces, including special CTS wrist braces, and a wide assortment of vitamin and mineral supplements.

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