For most people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome--about four to 10 million Americans, mostly women--painkillers are the first recourse. But, there are some natural or alternative treatments that can also relieve carpal tunnel.

Try relaxation techniques. People with carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) usually experience chronic pain, numbness and tingling in the hands and wrists. Relaxation exercises such as yoga can help to reduce pain and increase grip strength in your hands. Yoga also helps to improve balance, strength, and flexibility in all joints of your body.

Go under the needle. Acupuncture needle, to be specific. In a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, participants--some of whom had surgery for CTS--received either acupuncture or acupuncture combined with electrical stimulation, or electro-acupuncture.

Eighty-three percent of the participants had improvement in their symptoms for two to eight years after the trial. Even, the National Institute of Health recognized acupuncture as an acceptable alternative treatment for CTS.

Consider chiropractic treatment. Some research suggests that this alternative treatment that includes exercises, soft-tissue therapy, and manipulation of the wrist, arms, spine and the ribs can decrease pain, and improve muscle function and flexibility. It can also improve thumb and grip strength and overall function. The effects lasted for up to six months.

Exercise more. Even if your symptoms have subsided, stretching and strengthening exercises can help, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. They recommend working with a trained health professional like a physical or occupational therapist to learn exercises and proper techniques to relieve pain and other  symptoms, as well as to prevent further damage from CTS.

Alternate warm and cold treatments. Heat and cold therapies are effective for a variety of painful conditions, such as arthritis, muscle strains--and carpal tunnel syndrome. Ice and cool packs, for instance, can alleviate acute pain and swelling caused by inflammation.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), some patients experience fewer symptoms when they treat CTS with alternating hot and cold soaks. However, UMMC points out that if heat works, you may not be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, but some other similar pain condition.

Wear a wrist splint or brace. These supports are widely available and help to immobilize your wrists. They prevent the carpal tunnel from being impinged or squeezed, which helps to reduce pain. In some cases, wearing a splint or brace can reduce CTS symptoms by 80 percent.

Splints and braces are particularly beneficial when you're doing activities that trigger or worsen carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. These tasks include keyboard typing, and other activities that involve repetitive motion such as assembly or craft work.

Use ultrasound therapy. This alternative treatment utilizes sounds, which make tissues vibrate and generate heat. It also stimulates nerve regeneration and fights inflammation. Researchers believe ultrasound therapy can help to decompress the nerve in the carpal tunnel, thereby relieving pain.


Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 1990;13:507-20. "A treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome: evaluation of objective and subjective measures." Bonebrake AR, Fernandez JE, Marley RJ, et al.