Why No Surgery
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT CARPAL TUNNEL:
- A report by NIOSH revealed that more than 50% of all food cashiers, (jobs predominantly held by women), suffered some degree of carpal tunnel syndrome and other forms of repetitive strain injuries as a result of the physical demands of scanning products at high speed.
- Presently, 25% of all computer operators have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, with estimates that by the year 2000, 50% of the entire workforce may be affected.
- Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps because the carpal tunnel itself may be smaller in women than in men.
From The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2002.
A DR’S VIEW ABOUT CARPAL TUNNEL SURGERY:
Why Surgery For Carpal Tunnel Is Risky, Failure-Prone, And Costs An Arm And A Leg:
One option is going under the knife. In other words, going to see the doctor and letting him slice you open to relieve the symptoms of your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Here's what Dr. Anthony J. Viera, a medical doctor specializing in CTS, says about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery:
"Surgery is done under anesthesia through an incision on the wrist, the carpal ligament is severed to relieve the pressure on the nerve. The incision is sutured closed with the expectation that the ligament tissue scars back together over several months creating more space. Cost of surgery and rehab is $4,000 to $10,000 with improvement achieved in 85% of cases. Full restoration is achieved in less than 70% of surgeries. Often workers have to transfer to new jobs or adjust activities at work even after surgery. Symptoms can reoccur within a few years.
(Surgery excerpt based on peer reviewed article: Management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by ANTHONY J. VIERA, LCDR, MC, USNR, Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida in American Family Physician, July 15, 2003 Issue.)
What Dr. Viera is saying is that carpal tunnel surgery is not always the best choice or option. Surgery is expensive, especially if your employer won't pay for it for you. Imagine having to come out of pocket for between $4,000 - $10,000. Could you afford something like that?
Surgery does NOT even hope to promise that you won't GET CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME AGAIN. It blatantly says that you could. So all in all, surgery is a potential option... as a last resort. There's no disputing that, if you wanted to risk surgery, and you could afford to pay an arm and a leg, it could work.
COMMON TREATMENT APPROACHES:
That said, here's the lowdown on alternative and non-surgical treatments for CTS. First and foremost, doctors recommend giving the affected wrist/hand a complete rest for two weeks, preferably by bracing the forearm in a splint. While you may lose some muscle tone, this can quickly be regained through exercise. Simple splints can be found at any drugstore.
Heating pads may be applied to soothe the area, unless there is swelling present -- the heat may encourage the swelling. In this case, apply an ice pack.
Vitamin B deficiency is thought to be linked to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Consuming vitamin B6, especially in combination with vitamins B2 and B12, is widely touted as an effective remedy for CTS. It helps to strengthen the sheath that supports the wrist tendon, thus relieving pain.
However, B6 in high doses can pose risks, so proceed with care. Search online for dosage guidelines.
Take 300 mg. B6 daily for three months, followed by 50-100 mg. daily maintenance dosage. This can be taken in combination with 100 mg. B2 and 1000 mcg. B12 in sublingual (capsule which dissolves beneath the tongue) form.
Bear in mind that in can take up to three months to experience the effects of B6.
Vitamin therapy is one of the most commonly recommended natural therapies for CTS, but it is by no means the only one. All of the following have proved effective in treating cases of CTS:
1. Massage. Used for many types of repetitive strain injury, massage stimulates blood flow to the affected muscles and increases the range of motion.
2. Acupuncture stimulates endorphin release, relieving pain. Many CTS sufferers have found it extremely helpful. If you're averse to needles, many practitioners now employ painless laser acupuncture, which is just as effective as the traditional approach.
3. Chiropractic therapy can be of help if the CTS symptoms relate to pinched nerves.
4. Physical therapy, the manipulation of the affected joints, can be quite helpful, but only after the condition has been stabilized.
5. Osteopathy -- Osteopaths examine the body from a holistic perspective, recognizing that problems in the forearm can stem from problems originating in the back, neck, and/or shoulders.
6. Bromelain (Bromelian) is a natural enzyme found in pineapples. It acts as an anti-inflammatory.
7. Yoga helps to stretch and strengthen muscles and tendons, and many CTS patients have found it to be enormously beneficial to their condition.
8. Other recommendations include cutting down on or eliminating saturated fats, fried foods, and refined sugars, folic acid supplementation, and undertaking a homeopathic full-body cleansing regime. You could even try a device such as Armaid (http://www.armaid.com/html/shop.php3/index.html), a splint-type unit which stimulates and massages the forearm.
Finally, you may find cognitive therapy helpful in managing the emotional side-effects of CTS -- pain-related depression and anxiety. Cognitive therapy essentially helps you to change the way you think about pain.
The current medical standard for treating CTS offers two conservative treatment options with poor prognosis. Symptoms recur in 80 percent of patients with conventional treatments. Surgery is recommended when chronic CTS does not respond to conservative measures. Surgery offers only marginal results.
1- Wrist supports may be helpful, but can result in muscle atrophy and other complications.
2- Oral corticosteroid therapy and local corticosteroid injections can offer short-term relief.
Surgery is done under anesthesia through an incision on the wrist, the carpal ligament is severed to relieve the pressure on the nerve. The incision is sutured closed with the expectation that the ligament tissue scars back together over several months creating more space.
- Cost of surgery and rehab is $4,000 to $10,000 with improvement achieved in 85% of cases.
- Full restoration is achieved in less than 70% of surgeries.
- Often workers have to transfer to new jobs or adjust activities at work even after surgery.
Symptoms can reoccur within a few years.
What we're trying to say is that natural, at-home solutions are just as much of a viable option as a medical surgery. If you can commit to our prescription of exercises, we believe you will find the relief that you are hoping for. What we have found is that posture and muscular imbalance have a lot more to do with carpal tunnel than most people think. Read more about posture and carpal tunnel here.