How to Reduce Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Through Diet and Healthy Habits

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a rising concern as more people take on jobs working on computers, which require repetitive motion. In addition to office workers, people working assembly line jobs, janitors, painters and cashiers are often at risk for symptoms of carpal tunnel (CT) due to the repetitive nature of their work. Fortunately, symptoms and pain may be reduced or cured by changing the diet and adjusting habits or work activities.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

A CTS condition is typically created by excessive fluid retention or any sort of movement, which may be repeated frequently such as writing, driving, sewing or keyboarding. These activities could affect or compress the median nerve (MN). The nerve runs through a narrow opening in the wrist, known as carpal tunnel. Any type of swelling or pressure can affect carpal bones or tendons in this region, which ultimately affect the use of wrists and some fingers.

Symptoms

Because tendons and the MN extend from the forearm to the hand, symptoms may occur anywhere in the elbow, forearm, hand or the fingers. Most people with this condition may experience pain, weakness, numbness or a tingling sensation in any of these areas. In many cases, patients have complaints with the middle or index fingers, thumbs or sometimes a portion of their ring fingers.

Treating Mild Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel

If you begin to notice any types of these symptoms, it might be wise to evaluate if certain activities or movements may be causing problems. These simple solutions may be helpful for resolving or providing relief from pain or tingling:

  • Discontinue physical activities, which cause you pain or numbness.
  • Take breaks throughout the day from activities like keyboarding that add additional stress to the wrist or fingers.
  • Apply ice to the wrist a few times per hour for a minimum of 10 minutes to reduce swelling.
  • Wearing wrist splints reduces pressure on nerves.
  • Keep your muscles strong with plenty of exercises and maintain an ideal weight.
  • Incorporate foods into meals that may work well to reduce or cure symptoms.
  • When keyboarding, alternate hands when possible. Shoulders should be relaxed and wrists should be held straight with hands just a bit higher than wrists.
  • Take anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce puffiness or inflammation.

Foods to Prevent or Alleviate Carpal Tunnel

Adding some of these foods may help to reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel or could even prevent carpal tunnel.

Vegetables With Bright Colors

Several vegetables that are bright green or red often contain large amounts of antioxidants, which work well for reducing swelling. Dark leafy greens, red or yellow peppers, healthy carrots, red tomatoes and bell peppers are great sources of healthy antioxidants.

Salmon

Adding salmon to your diet or increasing your intake of other types of fatty fish have been quite effective in reducing CT symptoms and decreasing inflammation. Consider sardines and tuna, which are high in healthy fatty acids.

Pineapple

Tropical pineapple is an ideal fruit to eat that contains bromelain enzymes, which work well for reducing swelling. In addition, you might also add coconut, cherries and blueberries to meals, which contain large amounts of antioxidants to fight inflammation.

Walnuts

Walnuts contain omega fatty acids just like some types of fish. Adding a handful of walnuts to your diet is not only healthy, but they can reduce wrist swelling. If you enjoy various types of seeds in your diet, try to cook more meals utilizing chia seeds or flax seeds for additional fatty acid intake.

Spinach

Research has shown that vitamin B6 is extremely effective at fighting CT symptoms. Spinach is rich in vitamin B6, and it is also found in many other foods like cantaloupe, nutritious cauliflower, bananas, sweet oranges and chicken.

Drinks or Foods to Avoid

Unfortunately, some foods only add to inflammation and pain. Consider reducing or avoiding these foods and drinks:

  • Salt causes more fluid retention, which affects swelling that may increase pain. Decreasing salt intake is recommended.
  • Consuming alcohol increases swelling and reduces the effectiveness of B vitamins needed for healing.
  • Sugar also increases puffiness and swelling, which adds to pain problems.
  • Reducing grains and gluten may help to decrease any inflammation.
  • Consider decreasing foods containing large amounts of saturated fats like processed meats, cheese, sausage and bacon that slow circulation.

Supplements

Whenever possible, it is always best to get vitamins and antioxidants through fresh foods that you consume. However, if you can’t eat certain foods or dislike the taste, you could consider purchasing supplements. For example, vitamin B6 and omega-3 (in fish oil) are both available as supplements and are sold over the counter.

The best way to reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel is to recognize the signs of the condition and make changes to your diet. Make sure you evaluate physical activities that may be repetitive and ensure you have an ergonomic computer workstation to prevent carpal tunnel.

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