Carpal Tunnel syndrome is a work-related, repetitive motion injury and may be defined as a compression of the median nerve as it passes through the anatomical tunnel of the wrist that causes pain and weakness in the fingers. Interestingly it is more common in women than men but there is no evidence that it is related to gender purely because it occurs in certain occupations that have greater female representation. Whilst the syndrome has been well studied, there is a tendency to immediately conclude that pain or numbness in the hand or forearm region indicates that the syndrome is present.
Carpal tunnel is more complicated to treat than tennis elbow as it involves nerve compression or entrapment. It is imperative to have a medical diagnosis to ensure that the symptoms are actually Carpal Tunnel syndrome rather than tendinitis. It is almost always an overuse injury involving the wrist but tightness in the anterior neck / chest or at the thoracic outlet can result in similar symptoms. It is a serious and complicated condition so please beware of therapists or workshops that promise to fix it in a single session with a few simple strokes. Even with the best massage treatment, Carpal Tunnel syndrome is rarely resolved without addressing the fundamental cause of the problem. Having said that, most Carpal Tunnel syndrome cases will greatly benefit from soft-tissue therapies.
The most common symptoms include numbness in the median-nerve distribution of the hand along with significant pain. The symptoms may be worse at night as people have a tendency to flex their wrists while they are sleeping, increasing pressure on the carpal tunnel. If the condition worsens then the sufferer may experience a loss of tactile sensitivity in the fingers. This is followed by motor dysfunction which is demonstrated as clumsiness, loss of dexterity and a weakening of grip strength.
Traditional treatment for Carpal Tunnel syndrome include modification to behavior, physical therapy, rehabilitation or even surgery. The pressure must be taken off the nerve so that the nerve tissue can heal which is normally accomplished with a modification in activity. However, it must be pointed out that damaged nerve can be very slow to heal and as a result it may take some time for recovery from the injury particularly if the condition is chronic. Anti-inflammatory medications may offer short-term relief through pain management and reduction of inflammation, however they will not address the biomechanical factors that originally led to the problem.
There is evidence that vitamin deficiency may be a factor in some cases. Research has found that combined B2 and B6 supplementation may be an effective treatment. The biomedical mechanism may be the result of a B6 deficiency reducing the effectiveness of collagen and elastin synthesis, leading to tissues being more susceptible to injury. However you should consult a qualified practitioner before taking B2 and B6 supplements.