Carpal tunnel occurs when a nerve in the wrist, called the median nerve, becomes compressed and causes pain or numbness in the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. Cubital tunnel is the compression of a nerve in the elbow, called the ulnar nerve, and leads to numbness in the hand and a loss of grip. Surgery is often performed for both of these syndromes to repair the problem that results in the compression, but alternative therapies can be beneficial. For some patients, alternative therapy techniques can help reduce the symptoms. Other patients with more severe cases will need the surgery, but the alternative therapy is used as a rehabilitation method.
In the early stages of carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes, anti-inflammatory pain relievers can help control symptoms. Wrist braces and elbow supports can help, particularly while you are performing repetitive movements, such as chronic elbow bending or typing. People who suffer from worse symptoms during the night may benefit from the extra support while sleeping.
Physical therapy is a common recommendation for patients with either syndrome. A therapist will guide you on specific exercises. There are two different groups of exercises that can be used.
Pre-surgical physical therapies are used for people who have not yet had surgery. These exercises are meant to help alleviate the pain, inflammation, and numbness that can be experienced. Post-surgical therapies are used following surgical repair. This group of exercises targets mobility and muscle strengthening.
Another type of alternative therapy that may help is an ointment that contains safflower extract. This ointment can be applied to the wrist or elbow. It is believed that the safflower extract has the ability to reduce inflammation.
Steroid injections can be considered as an alternative therapy for carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes. The injections are given at the site of the problem, usually by an orthopedic doctor. Steroid injections are commonly used for people with arthritis, joint stiffness, and back conditions. The steroids help reduce the pain and inflammation.
Yoga is another alternative therapy that is commonly chosen. The body relaxation techniques and postures can be helpful in reducing symptoms. Additionally, studies have shown that pain tolerance and mobility levels have improved. It is not yet completely understood how yoga works for symptom management.
There are many different types of alternative therapies for carpal and cubital tunnel. Although they can be helpful for many people, not every person has success with the therapies. It is important to thoroughly discuss all your treatment and therapy options with your doctor.