What is Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a passage which connects the forearm to the hand, forming a tube which runs from the wrist down into the palm. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition where the central (or median) nerve which runs down the arm becomes compressed by a swelling or degeneration of the tendons which run through this tube. It is common in those people who have jobs which involve constant or repetitive use of the arm, even for light tasks. CTS causes pain and numbness for its sufferers which can be severe, resulting in them waking from sleep due to the intense tingling sensations in their lower arm and hand. In more serious cases, pain may extend up through the arm and into the shoulder.
Traditional treatments for CTS involve either surgical or non-surgical options. Less invasive treatment options involve the patient making amendments to diet and exercise regimes, or wearing splints on the wrists for set periods of time. Oral medication such as corticosteroids are also prescribed and, if these courses of action are unsuccessful, sufferers can also have a steroid injections in their wrist.
Surgery is usually only suggested for severe cases where non-surgical options have failed to provide a patient relief. It involves a small operation where the roof of the carpal tunnel is cut to release pressure on the median nerve, and can be done under local anaesthetic. The procedure is fairly minor and the operation can be done as an outpatient. Recovery time is fairly short, involving the patient keeping the arm elevated for 48 hours and only using it for light activity for a few weeks following the operation.
The possibilities of Linseed Oil and Bach Flower remedies
The more traditional treatments are sometimes unsuccessful and can also prove expensive and invasive for the sufferer. Medics are constantly searching for effective new treatments which may be drawn from more natural sources, as they are readily available, taken from nature and less expensive.
New studies have shown that linseed oil (also known as flaxseed oil) can be extremely beneficial in treating a range of skin conditions, as the oil, drawn from the plant’s dried, ripe seeds, has great anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to reducing inflammation, linseed oil is also thought to have analgesic qualities which could potentially both relieve the pain suffered by CTS patients and reduce the swelling of the tendons, thus relieving the compression of the median nerve.
An initial study focused on the application of topical linseed oil to the area on the palm side of the wrist. Patients participating in the study were asked to apply 5 drops of the oil or the placebo every morning and night for a four week period. It was noted that those using the linseed oil who had mild to moderate CTS experienced reduced levels of pain and numbness, and researchers strongly felt that further CTS trials experimenting with the use of linseed oil would be extremely beneficial.
In addition to the linseed oil trial, another study focused on the use of a cream made from extracts of the Bach flower. 43 patients who were awaiting surgery for CTS took part in the study, again applying the cream topically to the wrist for 21 days. It was found that there were significant improvements in the symptoms of those using the Bach flower cream, the majority of them suffering reduced pain, both during the day and at night, and decreased symptoms of numbness.
It was concluded that both linseed oil and Bach flower can be extremely beneficial in treating patients with mild to moderate CTS, most of whom experience a reduction in symptoms with a simple daily application of the treatments.