By Laurie A. McDonald, Certified in Advanced Reflexology Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a disorder characterized by a specific pattern of numbness, tingling, pain or weakness caused by pressure exerted on the median nerve at the wrist. The nerve enters the hand between the carpal bones and the transverse carpal ligament that holds the bones together. This rigid passageway is called the carpal tunnel and swelling in this area can cause compression of the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs most often in people 30 to 60 years old and is very common in women. Injury, trauma to the area, pregnancy or repetitive movement can cause swelling of the tissues and CTS. Injury can be from sports such as racquetball and handball or from occupations such as sewing, use of tools, keyboard/mouse use, writing and other repetitive activities that affect wrist position and usage. Reflexology includes massage, which relaxes the body and eases the mind, putting the client in a calm, accepting state both physically and mentally. Working the reflexes of the central nervous system can calm nerves, ease pain, numbness, tingling and stiffness. Stimulation of the endocrine system reflexes, in particular the pituitary, pineal, thymus and adrenal gland reflexes can assist in the reduction of inflammation and tenderness. The muscular and skeletal system reflexes, especially the neck, shoulder and other affected reflexes when stimulated ease the muscle tension so that swelling is reduced and mobility is increased. Circulatory, lymphatic and urinary reflexes are all stimulated during a reflexology session to nourish cells with essential nutrients and to remove toxic substances to assist with healing. Preventative measures can be taken should CTS symptoms appear. Decrease or stop any activities that cause pain or numbness in the fingers, hand or wrist. Resume the activity slowly and with emphasis on keeping the wrist supported or straight. Take frequent breaks of just a minute or two to rest, assess your posture and stretch every hour. Wrist splints help to reduce stress on fingers, hand and wrist by supporting the wrist and keeping it straight. When the wrist is not bent, blood can flow more freely and tension is released. Utilize the splint at work and/or wear the splint and elevate the hand when sleeping. Exercises also ease swelling and irritation in tendons through stretching. Studies show that a Vitamin B6 deficiency is a common in many people suffering from CTS. Therapeutic dosages in Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C assist with reduction of swelling and stimulation of the body's natural cortisone. It is also appropriate to avoid foods containing yellow dyes and limit protein consumption over the treatment period. Botanical medicines such as Turmeric and Bromelain have been used in both Indian and Chinese systems of medicine for treatment of many forms of inflammation. Hydrotherapy is another form of treatment of CTS, which is easy and effective. Ice the area for 3 minutes and then heat the area for 1 minute. Do 3 cycles and finish with cold. This method is very effective in relieving pain and reducing the swelling. Natural methods of healing take time, care and patience but can often avoid further suffering from the effects of drugs and surgery. Always consult with experts in each field of treatment that you may wish to explore for the best possible results for your condition. The methods above are not meant to take the place of your regular physician as many informed doctors are now including natural methods of healing in their practice. Laurie A. McDonald is certified in Advanced Reflexology and practices in Nanaimo.