The carpal tunnel is located at the wrist just below the wrist crease, the floor of the tunnel is formed by the carpal bones and the roof of the tunnel is formed by the transverse carpal ligament. The structures that pass through the carpal tunnel are the median nerve; the four tendons of the flexor digitorum superficialis; the four tendons of the flexor digitorum profundus and the tendon of the flexor pollicis longus. The problem arises when the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel. This can generally occur in one of two ways: the actual size of the tunnel itself decreases or the size of the contents passing through the tunnel increases. Generally the problem is due to one or the other cause, seldom do they occur together. Some causes of CTS are idiopathic or unknown.
The size of the contents passing through the tunnel can be increased by:
The decreased canal space can be caused by:
Acute causes include:
Early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid permanent damage of the median nerve. A physical examination of the hands, arms, shoulders, and neck can help determine if the person’s complaints are related to daily activities or to an underlying disorder and can rule out other painful conditions that mimic carpal tunnel syndrome. Diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome is confirmed by performing certain tests to detect damage to the median nerve.
Tinel’s test – The physician taps the median nerve at the wrist. A tingling response in one or more fingers indicates damage to the median nerve.
Phalen’s test – The patient puts the backs of the hands together and bends the wrists for one minute. Tingling of the fingers indicates damage to the median nerve.
Electromyography – Electrodes are placed on the forearm and electrical current is passed through the patient. Measurements on how fast and how well the median nerve transmits messages to muscles indicate if there is damage to this nerve.
In cases where the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are mild or likely to be temporary, the treatment protocol generally includes, rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics and possibly splint to immobilize the wrist. In cases where the symptoms are severe surgery may be required.
So where do the essential oils come in? Many of the essential oils have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and diuretic properties so once we know what we are dealing with we can create a unique custom blend to address the specific problem.
Essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties include aniseed, benzoin, cardamom, chamomile German, chamomile Roman, clary sage, coriander, fennel, frankincense, geranium, ginger, helichrysum, lemongrass, marjoram, myrrh, orange, patchouli, peppermint, petitgrain and sandalwood.
Essential oils with analgesic properties include angelica, aniseed, bergamot, black pepper, cajuput, chamomile German, chamomile Roman, clove, coriander, eucalyptus, fennel, fir, frankincense, geranium, ginger, helichrysum, juniper, lavandin, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, peppermint, rosemary, thyme and yarrow.
Essential oils with diuretic properties include angelica, aniseed, caraway, cardamom, carrot, cedarwood, cypress, eucalyptus, fennel, geranium, grapefruit, helichrysum, juniper, lavandin, lavender, lemon, marjoram, rosemary, sandalwood and black spruce.
The oils can be applied in a gentle massage or when there is a lot of inflammation in a cool or cold compress.
Blends for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
|General Blend 1||General Blend 2||Cooling Blend||Warming Blend|
|3 drops Eucalyptus||1 drop Rom. Chamomile||3 drops Helichrysum||4 drops Ginger|
|5 drops Lavender||6 drops Frankincense||4 drops Juniper||2 drops Nutmeg|
|3 drops Marjoram||4 drops Geranium||4 drops Peppermint||5 drops Rosemary|