What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a term for an irritation to the median nerve from inflammation, compression, or some type of injury to the area. The median nerve runs from the elbow through the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway made of ligament and bones on the inside of both wrists. The nerve then connects to the thumb and first three fingers, and it is responsible for controlling movement and sensation there.
Accurately diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome will take a few different types of tests performed by your doctor, but if you’re not ready to make an appointment just yet, you can get a pretty good idea by checking the symptoms yourself:
If you answered yes to these, don’t panic: it could be a temporary stress on the median nerve due to a minor unknown injury (sleeping on it wrong, stressing it at the gym, etc). If your symptoms linger, it’s probably a good idea to check in with your doctor, as further evaluation is necessary to determine the cause of the discomfort. If you are diagnosed with CTS, take a deep breath. It is not considered to be a medical emergency, and most cases will go away with proper attention and care.
Many times, people don’t know what exactly caused their carpal tunnel. It has long been believed to be damage due to repetitive motion, often performed in the workplace. Doctors have recently discovered, however, that this condition could also be hereditary. CTS is linked to pregnancy as well. Oftentimes, pregnant women will experience oedema, the retention of fluid in the wrist which can compress and irritate the median nerve, and cause CTS symptoms until swelling goes down.
It is totally possible that CTS can manifest as a result of other conditions. Most times, you’ll need to treat the underlying condition before CTS will be responsive to any type of treatment. In many cases, rheumatoid arthritis has been found to be the culprit, so managing that would take precedence over treating the symptoms of CTS directly. This is because, often times, when the symptoms of arthritis have been properly managed, CTS will be eradicated on its own.
If you are diagnosed with CTS, the first thing your doctor will likely try is a wrist brace. Keeping your wrist straight and stable will discourage any movement that would exacerbate the symptoms, which gives the nerve and ligaments time to heal. Because CTS usually goes away completely, other standard treatments are typically aimed at pain management: your doctor will probably tell you to stock up on ibuprofen or aspirin while you heal. However, if your symptoms persist and become unmanageable, your doctor can administer corticosteroid injections into the carpal tunnel, which provides temporary, localized relief. They have been found to be more effective at treating the pain and inflammation than taking steroids or medications orally. If you do not show any improvement in 6 months, your doctor may recommend surger.
Carpal tunnel release surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means you are sent home shortly after the surgery. While it may be considered a minor procedure, carpal tunnel surgery recovery time can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, sometimes longer if you’ve gone an extended time without treatment. The carpal tunnel surgery recovery process typically involves prolonged wrist splint use, physical therapy, and lots of at home care and attention. This is why doctors will typically approach this option as a last resort.
There are dozens of natural and DIY treatments for CTS. Most of these methods can also be applied to aid in carpal tunnel surgery recovery as well. Understanding what the body needs to do in order to calm down the symptoms of CTS, and begin the healing process, is the first step to finding an effective home remedy. When it comes to CTS and other nerve-related pain, it’s important to look for treatments or methods that:
Think arthritis might be the cause of your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Treat that first: Different Types of Arthritis and How Cannabis Can Help.
Essential oils are becoming increasingly popular for carpal tunnel, because many of these natural oils offer the anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and circulation boosting properties required for proper treatment. It’s important to remember that quality is paramount when it comes to any type of plant oil or extract intended to be used medicinally. Many companies will sell ‘fragrance oils’ or ‘perfume oils’ packaged similarly to essential oils, so make sure you do proper research, and ask questions if you aren’t sure. Perfume and fragrance oils do not pack the same medicinal benefit as essential oils.
There are a wide variety of essential oils for carpal tunnel, and finding the ones that work best for you may take some experimentation. Most true essential oils are going to be extremely potent, so handle them with care. Many of these oils will ‘burn’ the skin when applied neat, so any type of administration will require dilution in a carrier oil first. Something like coconut oil, hemp, avocado, and even olive oil would work. A safe ratio is typically going to be about one to two drops of essential oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil. Feel free to use one or more of these oils to create a unique blend:
If you find a blend you like, stick to it. Otherwise, keep a few different essential oils on hand to use as you see fit. Massaging the oil into the site of pain at the first sign of irritation can help relieve symptoms faster. Applying pressure on the acupressure points known as the Inner and Outer Gates is also recommended with the application of essential oils. Doing this 3-5 times daily (or as much as needed) has been found to be huge for carpal tunnel relief.
Some things to remember about essential oils:
Another plant oil being used to treat nerve-related pain like CTS is cannabis oil, an extract of the cannabis plant. Many people shy away from this type of treatment, mostly due to the vast amount of incorrect information being tossed around on the internet and in the media. To clear common confusion right off the bat, not all cannabis oil is the same. What you get largely depends on a) what company and state you purchase from, b) the extraction process of the product, and c) what specific plant species (or even strain of species) was used in extraction. Educating yourself so you know exactly what you want when purchasing or making your own cannabis oil will help you achieve your desired result.
The first rule of thumb when seeking medicinal cannabis oil to treat carpal tunnel is making sure you are getting true cannabis oil. Many people confuse it with hemp oil, which isn’t too surprising as both marijuana and hemp plants are the same species, Cannabis Sativa L, and some people aren’t aware there is a difference between the two. While both are technically the same species of plant, marijuana and hemp have been bred to do completely different things:
Quality cannabis oil, made from marijuana, will have a high percentage of both cannabinoids THC and CBD. THC and CBD work together within a human system called the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate pain sensation, inflammation, and neuropathic pain. In fact, the endocannabinoid system has been found to work with cannabis to help regulate neuropathic pain in a big way. This study found that one puff off the old peace pipe three times a day for five days “reduced intensity of pain, improved sleep, and was well tolerated.” A study in 2015 stated that cannabinoids are proving to be effective when treating neuropathic pain, chronic pain, and even pain from some cancers.
Cannabis oil can be taken orally to help ease carpal tunnel pain. Dosing depends on how severe your condition is, and what your doctor recommends. While THC and CBD do work well together, CBD has been found to be a powerful agent on its own for treating nerve related pain, and can be purchased as an isolated compound in CBD oil. This is a good route for people who want to take cannabinoids orally for nerve pain but do not wish to have any of the side effects that come with THC.
If you would rather treat the pain locally, topical cannabis oil might be your best bet since your skin is also a part of the endocannabinoid system. Applying cannabinoids to the surface allows them to penetrate into the endocannabinoid system directly, working immediately on the affected area without having to run its course through your digestive system first. Using cannabis oil topically will not get you high, no matter how much you use or what percentage of THC is in your product, so don’t worry. You can use topical cannabis oil for carpal tunnel much like you would essential oils, or even with essential oils for maximum benefit. Don’t forget the acupressure!
If you haven’t noticed, medical marijuana has been pushed front and center in the news even more than normal lately. California rang in the new year by legalizing recreational marijuana, you can legally smoke pot in public places in Nevada, and United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has most recently made some bold statements, voicing his intent to rescind an Obama-era policy that directed federal prosecutors not to interfere with states activities in regard to marijuana product sales and legalization. Although marijuana has always been federally illegal, rescinding this protection would give the federal government reason and right to come down on medical marijuana providers and users, even in states where it is totally legal. Sessions has never been shy about his personal feelings towards marijuana, like wrongfully associating marijuana use to heroin addiction. As clear as it is that the United States Attorney General has a personal distaste and very strong opinions on the matter, at the end of the day, that’s all they are: opinions. Very few (if any) of his harsh words in opposition of cannabis are substantiated. In fact, he has stirred up so much controversy lately, and not just over marijuana laws, that there has been a call for his resignation and, ironically, support for the legalization of marijuana has never been higher (no pun intended).
As dangerous as it would be to take away the hands-off approach to marijuana laws the Federal Government has been exercising, much of this recent commotion appears to be somewhat over-exaggerated, as nothing has really changed (yet). Sessions said that although he “won’t commit to never enforcing federal law,” he reminded the people that marijuana is, and has been, and will remain illegal on a federal level. His recent statements about marijuana laws are “perfectly consistent with what he has said with regard to marijuana law in the past.” The National Cannabis Industry Association has stated in response to the industries nervous chatter about Sessions and his clear misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the plant: “We look forward to working with him to ensure that states’ rights and voter choices on cannabis are respected.”
Confusion over marijuana laws have become a big concern for those considering the use of any type of cannabis oil for medicine. If you have decided that cannabis oil is the right choice for you, understanding the law is essential:
If you have any questions regarding cannabis oil or laws regarding medical marijuana, talk to your trusted medical professional. If you live in an area where cannabis oil is legal and accessible, make sure you are very clear about dosing requirements and any potential side effects. While it is considered safe, it is still a powerful drug and should be used responsibly. Overdose is possible, but it isn’t lethal. Contrary to what some politicians might be saying, marijuana has never actually killed or injured anyone. It may, however, contradict some medications, so take that into account, especially if medicating orally. Always listen to your body and do what works best for you. Treating carpal tunnel syndrome takes time, patience, and dedication. The sooner you begin treating and caring for it properly, the sooner you can expect to experience a life free of carpal tunnel pain.