One of the more common questions I am asked about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is...What's the best kind of diet to help with my symptoms?
My answer is not usually what patients want to hear...but I tell them anyway.
The typical American diet is rich in fat and has a very high salt content. Salt causes the body to retain water and tissues to swell. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is compression of the median nerve inside the carpal tunnel...a small tunnel created by the alignment of the eight carpal bones and the transverse ligament that holds them together.
Pressure on the median nerve inside the carpal tunnel can happen two ways:
1. The diameter of the carpal tunnel narrows because the carpal bones become subluxated, or the ligaments become overstretched, or the muscles tear or become overused. Or the bones degenerate from arthritic conditions (diet can contribute to this). This usually happens from trauma or repetitive use...or in very rare cases, is congenital.
2. The contents of the carpal tunnel expand. There are three things inside the carpal tunnel; the median nerve, the nine flexor tendons of the forearm, and some blood vessels. The tendons or median nerve (which is pretty big) can become irritated from overuse and become inflamed...causing them to expand.
Either of the above can result in pressure on the median nerve causing CTS symptoms, such as pain in the wrist, arm or hand. Numbness or tingling, weakness, and night pain. There are some other risk factors also, such as various disease processes, thyroid disorders, hormone imbalances, pregnancy, and previous wrist fractures. And smoking is the worst thing you can do.
A poor diet can make the problem worse. The typical American diet not only is pro-inflammatory, which can effect joints...but is also high in salt content, which can cause tissue swelling in the carpal tunnel.
The diet I recommend is a plant based diet, which is anti-inflammatory and very low in salt. I don't recommend this diet just for CTS...I recommend this diet for everyone. And not just for a short term benefit, such as weight loss or pain control...but rather for long term health benefits.
Eating right is a lifestyle choice, and to get the benefits from it, you have to continue doing it. To get the benefits of exercise you have to do it on an ongoing basis, same with plant based nutrition.
But in any case...if you are suffering with CTS and want to attack it from all angles...try a plant based diet for a while and see what happens. I think you might be surprised at how great you feel, and how much better you look.