Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition where the median nerve that arises in the neck and travels through the shoulder, arm, and into the hand becomes compressed. Compression of the median nerve results in tingling, numbness, pain, and/or weakness that affects the 2nd, 3rd, and thumb-side half of the 4th finger. It can wake sufferers up in the middle of the night, forcing them to have to shake the hand and flick the fingers to “wake it up.” This can occur multiples times a night, making for a long next day! We’ve previously discussed chiropractic management strategies such as manipulation/mobilization of the neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand, the use of a cock-up splint (especially at night and at times when driving), but more information regarding the use of nutritional supplementation is lacking; hence the purpose of this article.
Let’s look at what we are trying to accomplish by nutritional approaches for CTS:
1. Anti-inflammation: Because of stomach, liver, and kidney side effects, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and others may not be your best choice. Rather, consider Turmeric (300 mcg), Ginger (100 mg), Boswellia (100 mg), Rosemary (100 mg), Bioflavonoid (100 mg), Bromelain (50 mg), Vitamin C (1-3 grams/day), Vitamin E (400 IU/day), Vitamin D3 (2000-5000 IU/day), Vitamin B-complex (especially B6, 9, and 12).
2. Muscle relaxation: Calcium (1500mg/day), Magnesium (400 mg/day), Potassium, valerian root (vervain), B-Complex, L-Arginine, Rosemary, Catnip, Kava root, Chamomile, Cayenne Pepper, Horseradish, Lavender, Licorice, Devil’s Claw.
3. Nerve repair: Folate (B9), B12 (cobalamin), Vitamin D3, B1 (Thiamin; minimum: 1.2mg/day), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B3 (niacin; minimum 16 mg/day), B12.
4. Managing systemic conditions:
- Diabetes (dysinsulinism): Chromium (picolinate or choloride), Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Omega-3 Fatty Acids (1000 mg of EPA & DHA), Coenzyme Q10, Polyphenols (dark chocolate, green tea), Botanicals (plant extracts such as garlic, prickly pear, aloe vera, fenugreek, bitter melon and ginseng).
- Thyroid dysfunction (hypothyroid): B-Complex (100 mg of B1, 3, 5, & 6 3x/day; B2, 50 mg 2x/day; B12 1000-2000 mcg/day; Selenium and iodine, Anti-oxidants (Selenium, Vit. C, Vit. E) Copper, thyroid extract, organic iodine.
- Obesity (BMI>30): Childhood obesity: Vit. D (ages 1-13, 5 mcg/day), B12, Vit. C, Fiber, Calcium (an extra 300mg of Calcium= >2 lb. weight drop); other fat soluble vitamins (Vit. A, E, and K), iron (iron is more commonly deficient in obese children and adults and can lead to fatigue and poor mental health and memory function).
5. Other considerations: General health: paleo diet, sleep quality, and exercise (see below).
You may notice that there is a lot of overlap in many of these vitamin recommendations. If one were to give nutritional recommendations for general health purposes, the anti-inflammatory “big 5” might include 1. A good quality multi-vitamin mineral, 2. Magnesium (often with calcium as a combined supplement), 3. Omega-3 fatty acids; 4. Vitamin D; and 5. Coenzyme Q10. For CTS specifically, the addition of a B complex seems to be recommended on a consistent basis. Controlling weight will reduce CTS risk and decrease the risk of acquiring type II diabetes which increases CTS risk by itself. Perhaps an “ideal diet” for everyone might include eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and the elimination of gluten (grains) – you may want to research the “anti-inflammatory diet,” paleo diet, the caveman diet, and the Mediterranean diet. Fortifying a great diet with vitamins is the “take-home” concept!