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Alternative Medicine and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Part 1

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a painful disorder caused by swelling or inflammation in the wrist, which puts pressure on the median nerve located in the carpal tunnel, a narrow passage located about ľ inch below the wrist surface. There was a time when carpal tunnel syndrome wasnít very well-known, but the increased use of computer mouses and keyboards, as well as adding machines, cash registers and other electronics, has lead to an increase in the number of people suffering with CTS, and a greater public awareness concerning the debilitating effects of this condition. Today carpal tunnel syndrome is thought to affect tens of thousands of individuals in the United States alone.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is normally caused when repetitive wrist movements are performed for long periods of time; however, other factors, such as water retention during pregnancy, obesity, tendonitis, bone spurs, Raynaudís disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis or other tissue-damaging disorders may contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome as well by causing inflammation of the tendons and synovium tissue surrounding the carpal tunnel, and irritating the meridian nerve in the process.

The median nerve controls the thumb muscles and is responsible for sensation felt in the thumb, palm, and first three fingers of the hand. When the meridian nerve becomes overly sensitized in those with carpel syndrome, it causes symptoms ranging from mild numbness and faint tingling to excruciating pain, and in severe cases can lead to severely weakened grip and loss of muscle movement in the thumb. Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome often report experienced as burning, tingling, or numbness in the thumb and the first three fingers, similar to the pins and needles feeling that occurs when a limb falls asleep. Symptoms may come and go at the onset of this condition, and it is at this time that CTS is most responsive to treatment. Over time, pain may spread to the forearm and shoulder, and surgery may be the only treatment option that offers the patients with advanced carpal tunnel syndrome any significant relief. Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect both hands, but generally affects only one, and is often aggravated by cool, damp conditions.

Women seem to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome more often than men. Changes in female hormones during pregnancy causes tissues to soften in preparation for birth, and pregnant women, menopausal women, and women taking birth control pills often experience increased fluid retention and swelling of the synovium tissues. In addition, because women generally have smaller wrists than men, they may be more vulnerable to carpal tunnel damage as a result of repetitive wrist movement. However, anyone who regularly performs tasks than cause repeated jarring of the wrist is at increased risk of developing this condition.

Alternative Medicine and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Part 2
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