Carpal tunnel is the working person’s affliction. It is characterized by weakness in the hands, shooting nerve pain in the forearm, and pain in the fingers. I’ve seen individuals who work over a hot grill, do a good deal of lifting, and knead stressed muscles who come to me for relief from the fatigue that work places on their body, in particular forearms, wrists, and hands. The cause of such conditions can be two fold, inflammation that arises through constant use and structural imbalances.
Work-related carpal tunnel can benefit greatly from dietary and postural interventions. Many people have noted, for example, that magnesium and core strengthening have significantly improved their ability to use their hands for work. Magnesium has some anti-inflammatory properties and core training addresses some structural matters.
Chinese medicine interventions like cupping and acupuncture can also make a difference, not just in addressing inflammatory and structural issues that give rise to carpal tunnel, but also in terms of maintenance. Let’s face it, many of our jobs place a lot of stress on our body. Californians love their cars. Cars that are driven hard and are exposed to harsh hot conditions require more regular maintenance than cars that are used periodically, mostly resting in the garage. Similarly, demanding work conditions, questionable diet and exercise routines or (even with ones that are solid), can benefit from the reset that acupuncture and cupping provide.
I’m a big fan of massage. However, Chinese medicine operates much differently from massage. Acupuncture penetrates to a level beneath the skin, producing a more systemic effect for blood circulation and nerve transmission, the core problem with carpal tunnel. The suction from cupping not only releases stuck muscles, but also draws stagnant blood to the surface of the skin, for enhanced oxygenation of blood. More oxygen in the blood enhances energy and relieves pain.
How frequent you need treatment depends on how much work you do, how much exercise and the type of exercise you get in, and your diet. As long as you work, you can be certain that some type of management will be necessary after recovery, if you want to prevent ending up with a recurrence of the same problem. Factors like diet and proper posture will help much in limiting the need for tune-ups, but just like a car, tune-ups are just a natural part of working hard.