Red Light Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Introduction

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that affects the hand and wrist. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the neck through to the forearm into the hand, and mot commonly becomes compressed or squeezed at the wrist . This can result in pain; numbness; tingling; a burning sensation and weakness in the hand and fingers. While traditional treatments like medication, wrist splints and surgery are commonly used, Red Light Therapy is emerging as a promising alternative for managing and actually reversing carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition characterised by the compression of the median nerve in the wrist. It typically occurs due to repetitive hand movements, such as typing, writing, or using vibrating tools. The carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway in the wrist, becomes inflamed, putting pressure on the median nerve, leading to various symptoms. Are you feeling tingling and numbness sometimes in your hand and fingers more often lately ? Maybe you have an early onset of this condition ?

Other Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can also be caused by certain medical conditions like diabetes or arthritis, hormonal changes during pregnancy, and genetic predisposition. Understanding the underlying causes is crucial for effective treatment and prevention.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can vary in severity but typically include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and fingers. Individuals may experience difficulty gripping objects, dropping things more frequently, and decreased hand coordination. If left untreated, muscles in the hand can waste and this will lead to further complications long term. Recognising these symptoms early on is important for timely intervention.

Traditional Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Traditional treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome often include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), wrist splints, physical therapy exercises, and in severe cases, surgery. While these treatments can provide relief, they may have limitations, side effects, or require a significant recovery period. This has led many individuals to explore alternative treatment options and Red Light Therapy is quickly becoming one of the best options.

In addition to CTS have you heard of Double Crush Syndrome?

Double Crush Syndrome is something also worthwhile exploring for some more complex sufferers. A patient with one peripheral nerve lesion, may also have a second lesion elsewhere along the course of the nerve. Both lesions could contribute to the patient’s symptoms. So it is possible to treat and repair one area only to learn that the symptoms still exist. It is also possible to treat one area and reduce and eliminate symptoms altogether in one or both.

Cervical Root Compression and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (Median Nerve)

Carpal Tunnel patients statistics showing Double Crush

  • 1000 hands in 888 patients – 11 felt to have double crush (1%) (Carroll 1982) 
  • 100 clinically diagnosed CTS patients – 6% thought to have double crush (Kuntzer 1994) 
  • Double crush in 0.7% of 12736 patients (Morgan 1998) 
  • 40 of 271 patients with thoracic outlet syndrome felt to have CTS too (Narakas 1990) 
  • 37 of 1183 patients with CTS found to have cervical radiculopathy (3.1%) (Wilbourn 1986) 
  • Evidence of double crush found in 74 limbs out of 758 in 681 patients with thoracic outlet syndrome (9.76%) (Abe 1999) 

Introduction to Red Light Therapy

Red Light Therapy, also known as low-level light therapy (LLLT), or photobiomodulation (PBM), is a non-invasive treatment that utilises specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to promote healing and reduce inflammation. It has gained popularity in recent years for its potential therapeutic benefits in various conditions, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Here is a great explainer video to view for those that wish to know more about how light therapy works.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

Red light therapy works by penetrating the skin and stimulating the mitochondria in cells, which are responsible for producing energy. This stimulation promotes cellular regeneration, increased blood flow, and the release of anti-inflammatory substances. These processes can help reduce pain, inflammation, and accelerate the healing process. As the Median Nerve is being pinched due to inflammation in the very tight space that it runs through in the wrist, targeted Red Light Therapy at and around that exact area is key to inflammation reduction whilst simultaneously repairing tissues and ligaments around the nerve and the nerve itself. For those patients that have Double Crush treatment in the Neck around the C5, C6 vertebrae

Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Red light therapy offers several potential benefits for individuals with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It can help reduce pain and inflammation, improve blood circulation, enhance tissue repair, and stimulate nerve regeneration. Additionally, red light therapy is non-invasive, painless, and has minimal side effects compared to traditional treatments.

Studies and Research on Red Light Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Several studies have investigated the effects of red light therapy on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A randomised controlled trial conducted on patients with mild to moderate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome found that red light therapy significantly reduced pain and improved grip strength compared to a placebo group. Other studies have also shown promising results in terms of pain reduction and functional improvement.

How to Use Red Light Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Red light therapy can be administered using various devices such as handheld or strap on devices devices like pictured below, smaller light panels, or light therapy wraps. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for the specific device being used. Treatment duration and frequency may vary, but consistency is key for optimal results.

CPT POD by Leredd – designed for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Safety and Precautions with Red Light Therapy

While red light therapy is generally considered safe, it is important to take certain precautions. Direct eye exposure should be avoided, and protective goggles should be worn if necessary. Red light therapy should not be used over open wounds, tumors, or areas of active infection. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting red light therapy, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.

Other Alternative Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Apart from red light therapy, there are other alternative treatments that may help manage Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These include acupuncture, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and herbal remedies. Exploring these options and finding the right combination of treatments that work for you is essential for personalised care.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Making certain lifestyle changes can help prevent or alleviate the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Some recommendations include taking regular breaks from repetitive hand activities, practicing good ergonomics, using wrist splints during activities that trigger symptoms, maintaining a healthy weight, and performing hand and wrist exercises. These proactive measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing or worsening the condition.

Conclusion

Red light therapy shows promise as a non-invasive, safe, and effective treatment option for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Its ability to reduce pain, inflammation, and promote healing makes it an appealing choice for individuals seeking alternative treatments. As always , it is important to consult with your healthcare professional before starting any new therapy or treatment as they have your full medical history and can guide you approrpriately.


FAQs

  1. Is red light therapy a cure for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Red light therapy is not an immediate cure for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but it can help manage the symptoms and promote healing that can lead to such a reduction of symptoms that the individual can avoid surgery or heavy pain medication.
  2. How long does it take to see results with red light therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? The duration of treatment may vary depending on the individual and the severity of the condition. Some individuals may experience improvements within a few days, while others may require longer treatment periods.
  3. Can red light therapy be used in conjunction with traditional treatments? Yes, red light therapy can be used alongside traditional treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised guidance.
  4. Are there any side effects associated with red light therapy? Red light therapy is generally considered safe with minimal side effects. However, some individuals may experience temporary redness or mild discomfort in the treated area.
  5. Can I perform red light therapy at home? Yes, there are various red light therapy devices available for home use. It is important to carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and consult with a healthcare professional if needed.
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