How To Reduce Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Through Diet And Healthy Habits

How To Reduce Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Through Diet And Healthy Habits

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a rising concern as more people work on computers, which requires 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 changes in diet and adjustments to habits or work activities.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

CTS is typically caused by excessive fluid retention in the wrist, or by repetitive movements like writing, driving, sewing or keyboarding that compress the median nerve. The median nerve runs from the elbow region and 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 affects the use of wrists and some fingers.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

Because the median nerve and wrist tendons extend from the forearm to the hand, symptoms may appear anywhere in the elbow, forearm, hand or fingers. Most people with carpal tunnel experience pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in any of those areas. In many cases, patients have complaints with the middle or index fingers, thumbs or sometimes a portion of their ring finger.

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

Carpal Tunnel Rehab

The first step to resolving carpal tunnel syndrome is to identify which activities contribute to it. Abstaining from those activities, or limiting them, can provide relief and give inflamed tissues time to heal. If eliminating certain activities is not possible, try to take breaks throughout the day, and apply ice to reduce swelling. For some people, wearing a wrist splint can reduce pressure on the median nerve.

Other tips for alleviating carpal tunnel pain include:

  • Get plenty of exercise and maintain an ideal weight
  • Eat a nutritious whole foods diet of non-inflammatory foods
  • When keyboarding, alternate hands when possible, and adjust your posture, with shoulders relaxed and wrists held straight, hands slightly higher than wrists
  • Take NSAIDs to reduce puffiness or inflammation

Some people undergo surgery to treat carpal tunnel, but the condition can be effectively resolved with conservative care. Carpal tunnel therapy exercises, healthy lifestyle habits and self-care are effective alternatives to carpal tunnel surgery.

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Foods that help Prevent and Alleviate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Foods that help Prevent and Alleviate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Adding some of these foods may help reduce symptoms or even prevent carpal tunnel syndrome:

Vegetables With Bright Colors
Vegetables that are bright green or red often contain large amounts of antioxidants for reducing swelling. Dark leafy greens, red or yellow peppers, carrots, red tomatoes and bell peppers are great sources of antioxidants.

Salmon
Adding salmon or other cold water fatty fish to your diet can help reduce carpal tunnel symptoms and inflammation. Consider sardines and tuna, which are high in healthy fatty acids.

Pineapple
Tropical pineapple contains bromelain enzymes that help to reduce swelling. In addition, coconut, cherries and blueberries contain large amounts of antioxidants to fight inflammation.

Walnuts
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, just like some types of fish, which can help to reduce swelling. Chia seeds or flax seeds also contain fatty acids.

Spinach
Research has shown that vitamin B6, found in spinach, is extremely effective for carpal tunnel symptoms. B6 is also found in cantaloupe, cauliflower, bananas, oranges and chicken.

Foods to Avoid

Some foods are pro-inflammatory, and can contribute to carpal tunnel pain:

  • Salt increases fluid retention, adding to swelling that may increase pain.
    Alcohol increases swelling and reduces the effectiveness of B vitamins needed for healing.
  • Sugar increases puffiness and swelling, and causes metabolic problems.
  • Gains and gluten may contribute to inflammation
  • Processed foods are pro-inflammatory, and bad for your health in general.

Nutritional Supplements

Whenever possible, try to get vitamins and antioxidants from fresh whole foods. However, supplementing with vitamin B6 and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce carpal tunnel inflammation and pain.

To reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel, evaluate physical activities that may be repetitive and ensure you have an ergonomic computer workstation to help prevent carpal tunnel. A healthy lifestyle with exercise and proper nutrition can help prevent CTS and relieve symptoms.

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About the Author

Dr. Lev Kalika is clinical director of NYDNRehab, located in Manhattan. Lev Kalika is the author of multiple medical publications and research, and an international expert in the field of rehabilitative sonography, ultrasound guided dry needling and sports medicine Dr. Kalika works with athletes, runners, dancers and mainstream clients to relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, enhance performance and minimize the risk of injuries. His clinic features some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the world, rarely found in a private clinic.

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In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)

image

Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)

image

Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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