The wrong way to 'treat' carpal tunnel

OUCH!

Write a text message... feel the burn.

Type an email... and the tingling starts.

Try to cook, clean, write or drive... and the telltale pain and numbness starts in your fingertips and works its way through your wrists and right up your arm.

And sometimes, you might not be doing anything at all. The pain just kicks in and won't let up -- pain so sudden and so severe that it can wake you in the middle of the night.

If any of that sounds familiar, you could be among the 10 million or so Americans battling carpal tunnel syndrome. And if you complain to your doctor about it, he'll offer up some quick ideas.

Almost all of them are flat-out wrong.

One of the most common mainstream treatments is a steroid shot. And, sure, the shots might seem to work in the short term. That's why many of the 111 carpal tunnel syndrome patients who took part in a new study got some temporary relief thanks to the shot.

But when you mask the pain without fixing the underlying problem, you can actually make it worse, because the lack of pain allows you to engage in the same activities that caused your carpal tunnel syndrome in the first place.

And that's a long-term recipe for disaster.

Just look at those patients who got relief in the new study: Three-quarters of them needed surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome within a year.

To me, that's a sure sign the shots failed -- because if they worked, they'd not only ease the pain, but they'd also prevent or delay the need for surgery.

So skip the shot and start by working to correct the underlying cause of your pain. That may include limiting your Internet time, adjusting your posture and changing how you do things. Consult with a person trained in assessing and correcting your posture and making adjustments to your workstation.

Next, turn to natural pain relief techniques such as cold laser and acupuncture for a little help coping with the symptoms as you make those adjustments.

And third, seek the help of a skilled holistic medical doctor, because carpal tunnel isn't always caused by repetitive stress. In some cases, it's a warning sign of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, and you'll need to work with your doctor to get your thyroid back on track before you experience any lasting relief.

Whatever you do, don't wait -- because left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can get so bad that eventually you could have no choice other than surgery.

I offer natural pain relief -- including cold laser and acupuncture -- as well as comprehensive thyroid testing here at my clinic in Southern California. If you're in the area, contact my office to make an appointment or call 855-DOC-MARK to arrange a telephone consultation.