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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Some aspects of “Carpal Tunnel syndrome” with homoepathic mode of treatment


Carpal Tunnel syndrome is an entrapment neuropathy of wrist. It is a disorder caused by compression at wrist of median nerve supplying hand, which causes tingling, numbness.
Sex- Women are more affected than men.

Age- Usually between 30 to 60 years.

Aetiology- Most cases are idiopathic. Trauma to wrist causing fracture or sprain, pregnancy, multiple myeloma, amyloidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, acromegaly or hypothyroidism all may play a role in the development of carpal Tunnel syndrome.

Risk factors-
(1) History of affection of any family member.
(2) Certain occupations.
(3) Stress.
(4) Obesity.
(5) Smoking.
(6) Oral contraceptives.
(7) Age over 40 years.

Associated medical conditions- Carpal Tunnel syndrome is sometimes associated with pregnancy, multiple myeloma, amyloidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, acromegaly or hypothyroidism.

Pathophysiology- Pressure on the median nerve due to a swelling or anything that makes the Carpal Tunnel smaller compresses the median nerve at wrist which in turn causes tingling, numbness, weakness or pain.

Clinical Features-
(1) The first symptoms to appear are usually at night during sleep & cause nocturnal tingling & pain in the hand & sometimes forearm.
(2) It may be followed by weakness of the thenar muscles.
(3) There may be wasting of abductor pollicis brevis with sensory loss of the palm & radial three & a half fingers which are supplied by the median nerve.
(4) Tinel Test - Taping on the median nerve or on the carpal tunnel if reproduces a shock or tingling in fingers is suggestive of Carpal Tunnel syndrome & Tinel Test is said to be positive.
(5) Phalen test – Flexion of wrist causes compression of median nerve in the tunnel with the result of paresthesia in the median nerve distribution, thus reproducing the patient’s symptoms.

Investigations- The diagnosis of carpal Tunnel syndrome is based primarily on symptoms & clinical findings. X-rays may be advised which would help in detecting any fracture in the wrist that may be the cause of carpal Tunnel syndrome. MRI can also be done for visualizing injury to median nerve. However, the most important diagnostic test for confirmation of the disease is median nerve conduction study which of course has some limitations because a small percentage of patients may have negative result in spite of features suggestive of carpal Tunnel syndrome while a small percentage of asymptomatic individuals have positive results. Besides these, ultrasound imaging, electromyography may also be done.

Differential Diagnosis- Carpal Tunnel syndrome may be confused with nerve compression caused by a cervical disk herniation, thoracic outlet structures. Pain due to osteoarthritis of 1st carpal-metacarpal joint may also simulate that due to carpal Tunnel syndrome.

Treatment-
[A] General measures to be taken are-
(1) Splinting or bracing.
(2) Modification of activity.
(3) Occupational therapy.
(4) Physiotherapy.

[B] Homeopathic medicines to be used – There are a lot of homeopathic medicines which can be used in the treatment of Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Causticum, Lycopodium, Apis, Calcerea carb, Ruta Graveolens (Ruta), Rhus toxicodendron (Rhus tox), Arnica etc can be used according to the presenting clinical features. Ruta may be used when there is pain & stiffness in wrists & hands, Causticum for numbness & loss of sensation in hands, Apis for numbness of hands & tips of fingers. Arnica is usually used when there is flare-up of inflammation or new injury caused by repetitive use of fingers & wrists. Rhus tox is useful when there are stiffness & pain which get worse on initial motion but improve as movement continues. Besides these, Lycopodium may be used if tingling & numbness is confined to the radial three & a half fingers with or without wrist swelling. Calcerea carb may also be used for tingling & numbness & swelling in wrist & the radial three & half fingers. The potency & frequency of dosage as well as duration of treatment varies with the severity of the condition & the individual. Lower potency is to be used at the beginning. If response is not satisfactory a second dose should be used. If desired effect is still not noticed, it is better to switch over to a new medicine.

Prevention-
(1) Reduction of obesity.
(2) Immediate treatment of any disease which may cause carpal Tunnel syndrome.
(3) Regular breaks from repeated hand movements to allow hands & wrists to take a rest.

Prognosis- Carpal Tunnel syndrome is usually not grave. With treatment pain subsides & there is usually no lasting damage to hand or wrist. When the condition occurs in pregnancy due to fluid retention it usually requires no treatment as it is self-limiting.

In short, carpal tunnel syndrome is manifested by tingling, numbness, weakness or pain in hand due to compression of the median nerve at wrist & is to be treated by Rhus tox, Ruta, Arnica, Causticum etc.

But in every case, a doctor should be consulted.

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