Thursday, April 11, 2013

Man Up - The Only Carpal Tunnel Treatment That Works

RSI injuries were a very important part of my life for many years. Not anymore. You can read my full story here. In this post I will focus on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which have become as famous as Kim Kardashian. Let me tell you something - there is hope in the end of the tunnel.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a median entrapment neuropathy, that causes paresthesia, pain, numbness, and other symptoms in the distribution of the median nerve due to its compression at the wrist in the carpal tunnel. The pathophysiology is not completely understood but can be considered compression of the median nerve traveling through the carpal tunnel. It appears to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  Some of the predisposing factors include: diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, and heavy manual work or work with vibrating tools but not lighter work even if repetitive.
This is the general definition of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Usually the most common ways to treat the problem are - NSAIDs, wrist splints, rest, acupuncture, joint supplements, Vitamin B6, yoga, deep tissue massages, surgery and more.

Most cases of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are related to computer usage or should I say over-usage. These days office jobs are quite common and on top of that everybody uses computer at home too. Therefor many people believe that the repetitive motions and positioning of the wrist when typing on the keyboard are the main reason for the appearance of CTS. That's why a lot of people start using wrist splints like the one you see in the image above. The main idea behind similar equipment is to keep the wrist in natural alignment and avoid unnecessary pressure on the median nerve. However this treatment is not as efficient as it would seem. Our joints are meant to move freely and artificially reducing the range of motion of a joint is hardly needed when there is no structural damage such as bone fracture or ligament tears. On top of that in order to achieve the advertised natural alignment of the wrist you need to make sure that the wrist splint is tight - this could potentially cause reduced blood supply, unnecessary sweat and more. I've tried using wrist splints when I had nerve problems with my hand and in the end of the day they helped a little but mostly due to the placebo affect and false sense of security. That's why I would not recommend the usage of similar medical products for more than a few weeks at most. You risk becoming too dependant.

Unfortunately the other traditional methods can't be classified as very effective neither. NSAIDs for example will do very little for this condition. They can stop the pain, if that, but still the main problem for the pain will not be addressed. We all know that NSAIDs meant for oral use can be quite harmful on your stomach so make sure you don't go overboard. Yoga, stretching, acupuncture are all great but they also have limitations and usually promote slight pain alleviation during the activity and a few hours after but soon the pain returns. The reason for that is the fact that the root of the problem is not addressed.

When I was younger I developed some weird skin deformation on my first two knuckles. The doctor gave me a drug which actually did wonders. The problem was gone. But soon it returned. You know how the cycle goes on. 7 years later I still have this problem for one very simple reason - I don't know what's the cause and how to stop it. The above treatments for CTS are doing the same.

You may think I am crazy but I truly believe that the reason for CTS is mental, in your head. Yes, you read that correctly - in most cases the occurrence of carpal tunnel is caused by emotional trauma. Dr. Sarno, one of the most successful doctors when it comes to chronic pain, has presented his idea on the topic in many of his works. The basic message is this - chronic injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome have emotional cause and the physical pain that comes with the condition is meant to distract you from the real problem. I know this is hard to believe but you've probably tried all other treatment methods and they failed. Otherwise you probably wouldn't be reading this text.

Our bodies love us and will do anything to protect us. When we are in a period of serious stress and emotional pain the brain can initiate some sort of a physical pain in order to distract the mind from the real problem. Think of it as a knockout. If you are hit hard enough there is a point when your body jumps in and says "Enough !" and shuts down the system in order to protect itself. 

I am pretty sure that in most cases you are going to experience pain described as carpal tunnel when you are working or doing some kind of activity you find unpleasant. Also if you have CTS you are probably dealing with serious personal/family dilemmas that require hard choice and self-denial. This is when the "knockout" comes very handy. Dr. Sarno describes similar conditions as TMS or Tension Myositis Syndrome.

I believe that if the conventional methods failed to clear the problem or at least offer satisfactory level of improvement in a month you are most likely suffering from some sort of TMS. If you've had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for a very long period of time the chances that you have TMS become even higher.

The biggest problem which stops people from believing that they actually have TMS and their pain has emotional root is the fact that in most cases there is real physical pain. There is no doubt about it. The pain is real even though it's caused by stress and not real physical damage. That's why it is so hard to trust unconventional methods such as this one.

The first thing you have to do in order to get out of the trap is stop thinking negatively and believe you will get better. Then you will have to force yourself to accept that your suffering is caused by emotional pain rather than physical damage. The best thing would be find the reason for your emotional pain and deal with it. It could be your work, family, career..etc. For example you may hate your job and need a change of direction. Of course we all know that this is not always possible and we all need money every day in order to survive. Don't worry. Even if you don't remove the cause of your emotional struggle your condition will get better once you get aware what is the real reason for your suffering.

The next step is to resume any painful activities gradually - start using the computer, going to the gym, playing tennis, running...etc. Don't be scared. Like I said you have to commit 100% and believe that there is nothing physically wrong with you. Dr. Sarno would usually first examine his patients for dangerous conditions such as cancer before finally classifying the problem as mentally induced.  Once you have ruled out real problems you can breathe more easily and move on. 

Think about it for a second. How often do you hear kids complain about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Not very often and they play video games, masturbate like crazy, play sports. In other words the human body can handle much more than we think. Writing on the computer is not a very challenging for your fingers.  Try using an old school typing machine if you don't believe me.

Professional Korean gamers play video games such as Starcraft for close to 12 hours a day. Playing a game like Starcraft requires much more clicking than any office job currently known. Guess what - very few of them actually have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Of course there are injuries but in the end of the day the majority of the gamers is healthy when it comes to their wrists and arms. You don't see any of those guys wearing wrist shins, do you.

I know it sounds crazy but in order to get rid of TMS you just need to man up, commit and work through the pain. There is no other way around. We can talk forever but in the end of the day it comes to stop being a coward. I've been there. I know the pain is real. I know it sucks but I also know that if you continue to be a bitch about it instead of moving on with your life you are going to remain frustrated and suffering.


1. Perform the necessary physical examinations in order to be sure that you are not suffering from serious illness such as cancer.

2. Rest the area from the painful activity for a few weeks.

3. Accept that your pain is caused by your emotional state and move on.

Obviously if you have been suffering for a long time simply move to step 3.


Q: How long does it take to feel better?

A: Once you truly understand the root of your pain, stop being afraid that you will break by touching the computer mouse and move on with your life it will all be gone in no time. How long? From 10 minutes to 1 month.

Q: Will working through pain make my injury more severe?

A: It depends but if you truly have chronic Carpal Tunnel most likely you will be ok. Still be careful but not a coward.

Q: Should I take Vitamin B6?

According to the experts Vitamin B6 can be beneficial.

"A study by the Portland Hand Surgery and Rehabilitation Center in Oregon examined 441 people and found that higher levels of vitamin B6 were associated with fewer carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Researchers also found that higher levels of vitamin C relative to lower vitamin B6 levels were associated with a higher prevalence and greater frequency of carpal tunnel symptoms."

While taking vitamin B6 supplement will not hurt you it is not needed. RSI including Carpal Tunnel may be affected by Vitamin B6 deficiency but it sure as hell is not the main reason. Do you think the nerds eating pizza all day and playing video games are getting a sufficient amount of Vitamin B6?

Q: Am I too old?

A: No. There is no such thing as too old, especially in this case. Too old has always been the excuse of cowards.

Q: Should I buy the books of Dr. Sarno?

You could but it's all about following the main principles which you can find in this article as well as many others. However if you have the money buy it.

Q: Do you recommend any wrist exercises?

A:Yes, you can start exercising. It will help you. The most important thing however is to understand why you have this pain in the first place.

Q: Does masturbating make my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome worse?

A: No, unless you masturbate 4 hours every day.

Q: Do you think I should try some Chinese cures?

A: No. Don't waist your money. It's all garbage. The real cause of carpal tunnel is emotional pain. No, need to buy some mystic Chinese cure. 

Q: What do you think about the hand master?

Well, the hand master is actually a pretty good tool because it allows you to train both the wrist extensors and wrist flexors but you can make it yourself for a few bucks. The parts are cheap. Besides simple wrist curls and reverst wrist curls will do the trick just as well.