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CBD and the treatment of Carpal tunnel syndrome

CBD and the treatment of Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition caused by a compressed nerve in the hand. It causes pain, numbness, tingling and a range of symptoms, and affects approximately 3% of the world's population. Fortunately, thanks to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of cannabis, marijuana could be an interesting treatment option for those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful condition that affects the wrist area. Specifically, it is caused by pinching of the median nerve (one of the largest nerves in the hand). This syndrome is a recurring problem that tends to worsen over time, meaning it is important to diagnose and treat it as soon as possible.

Over time, continued pressure on the median nerve can seriously damage it. This damage is permanent and leads to worse and more intense symptoms.

The carpal tunnel passes through the wrist and acts as a small passageway, protecting the median nerve as it passes from the hand to the arm and extends to the neck. The median nerve is one of the main nerves of the hand; controls the sensitivity of the fingers, as well as the muscles surrounding the thumb.

CTS occurs when the carpal tunnel compresses the median nerve. This can occur when the carpal tunnel narrows, or when special tissue around the flexor tendons of the hand becomes inflamed. This inflammation can compress the carpal tunnel and put pressure on the median nerve.


External pressure compressing the median nerve causes a variety of symptoms. The severity of these symptoms tends to increase over time. If not treated properly, carpal tunnel syndrome could cause permanent damage to the median nerve, which will only increase the severity of the symptoms.

Some of the main symptoms of CTS are:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingle
  • Hand weakness
  • Crampy sensations running through your fingers
  • Pain and cramps running up the arm towards the shoulder


Research suggests that CTS is more common in older women. There are a number of factors that could increase the risk of developing this condition, including:

  • Genetics: Physical traits, such as a smaller wrist or a narrower carpal tunnel, can increase a person's risk of developing CTS. These physical traits are likely passed down from one generation to the next.
  • Hand movements and flexions: Performing repetitive hand movements, or activities that require extreme flexion of the wrists, hands and fingers, could aggravate the tendons in the wrist and cause inflammation, which ultimately affects the median nerve.
  • Arthritis: Inflammation of the joints in the hand and wrist could affect the carpal tunnel.


Treatment of CTS begins with a medical examination. The doctor will make a diagnosis based on symptoms and a physical examination, which includes tapping, bending, and pressing various parts of the hand. He or she will also test the sensitivity of your hands and, in some cases, perform electrophysiological tests and medical imaging (such as ultrasounds, MRIs, and X-rays) to better identify the cause of your symptoms.

Once diagnosed, treatment varies depending on the severity of the symptoms and the level of evolution of the condition. When detected early, CTS symptoms can usually be treated with non-surgical methods, including:

  • Wrist splints and orthoses: keep the wrist in a neutral position and minimize pressure on the carpal tunnel.
  • NSAID Treatment: NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are safe and well tolerated, and can help relieve pain and inflammation caused by this condition.
  • Steroid injections: Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents that can help treat carpal tunnel inflammation.
  • Exercises: Some doctors have their patients do specific exercises, designed to relieve symptoms and pressure surrounding the median nerve.
  • Lifestyle changes: Your doctor will help you identify activities that put extra pressure on the carpal tunnel and worsen symptoms. This could affect your work, exercise routine, or even hobbies that require you to flex or straighten your hand and wrist often, or for long periods of time.

CTS can also be treated through surgical procedures. These procedures, known as carpal tunnel release, increase the size of the tunnel with the goal of relieving pressure surrounding the median nerve. The need to apply this surgery depends on the severity of the symptoms.


Since the main symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are pain and inflammation, cannabis is an interesting option. And although conventional drugs, such as NSAIDs and steroids, can effectively relieve carpal tunnel symptoms, incorrect or continued use of these medications can cause side effects.

NSAIDs, for example, can cause effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding, heartburn, headaches, dizziness, liver and kidney problems, or high blood pressure, among others. Studies show that in the US, about 100,000 people are hospitalized each year for gastrointestinal problems related to NSAIDs alone. This increases interest in looking for alternatives.

Over the last decade, several studies have shown the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of various components of cannabis. In 2013, for example, researchers at Tongji University School of Medicine found that CBD[1] could significantly decrease inflammation, based on an animal-based pancreatitis study.

In 2012, a study published in the _European Journal of Pharmacology_ suggested that CBD could decrease inflammation[2] in rats with acute lung injuries. In 2011, researchers at the University of Naples Federico II found that CBD also appears to reduce chronic inflammation[3] in the intestine. Other studies show how CBD could help reduce inflammation caused by arthritis[4] and IBS[5].

That said, more research needs to be done, so it's still unclear how effective cannabis can be in helping carpal tunnel syndrome. It is necessary that specific research be carried out on the disease and its relationship with cannabis. Still, current research in this area is promising, even if it is not yet definitive.

External Sources

Anti-inflammatory Role of Cannabidiol and O-1602 in Cerulein-Induced Acute Pancreatitis in Mice - PubMed

Cannabidiol, a Non-Psychotropic Plant-Derived Cannabinoid, Decreases Inflammation in a Murine Model of Acute Lung Injury: Role for the Adenosine A(2A) Receptor - PubMed

Cannabidiol Reduces Intestinal Inflammation Through the Control of Neuroimmune Axis - PubMed

Preliminary Assessment of the Efficacy, Tolerability and Safety of a Cannabis-Based Medicine (Sativex) in the Treatment of Pain Caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis - PubMed

Cannabidiol in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: A Brief Overview - PubMed


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