© 2005 Katherine Poehlmann, Ph.D.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) bears all the hallmarks of a possible mycoplasmal infection. The author’s personal experience led to this observation. Soon after a severe flu swept through the company ranks one winter, employees who typically spent hours each day at computer terminals suddenly complained of wrist pain. Dozens of requests for wrist support braces were made to the onsite health services office. Many of these workers were career secretaries who had never before experienced any carpal tunnel problems before having the flu. My belief is that latent mycoplasmal infection was reinvigorated by exposure to Streptococcus.
It is estimated that more than 2% of the U.S. population (approximately 5.5 million people) are affected by CTS, and this number is growing. CTS surgery has become the most common operation performed on the hand. Over 200,000 Americans undergo CTS correction surgery.
Surgical treatment for CTS has been part of mainstream medicine since 1947. Its pioneer, Dr. George S. Phalen, now retired, admits that more than half of his patients did not need surgery. Dr. Phalen notes that 85% of his CTS patients were older, female homemakers who did not perform repetitive motions.
In the early 1970s, Dr. John Ellis discovered that CTS was caused by a vitamin deficiency. Mainstream medical theory still maintains that repetitive motion is the cause of CTS. While repeated action certainly exacerbates CTS symptoms, severe B6 (riboflavin) deficiency has been shown to be a major cofactor in the disease.
In a series of studies and carefully documented experiments, Dr. Ellis detected very low levels of the enzyme erythrocyte glutamic oxaloacetic transminase (EGOT) that reflects vitamin B6 activity in the body. A simple regimen of 100 mg of B6 taken twice daily for 90 days raises EGOT to normal levels. A bottle of Vitamin B6 costs $5 – a worthwhile experiment to try for a few months before considering $3,000 surgery. It is advisable to discuss this plan with your physician to avoid any possible adverse interactions between supplements, your health condition, and prescription drugs.
Since all vitamins in the B-complex typically work together, a B6 deficiency probably points to other diet deficiencies. Although B6 is present in a wide variety of foods, it is not available in large quantities. Vitamin B6 is lost through cooking and through the processing of refined foods, so it is easy to develop a deficiency. A qualified, credentialed nutritionist can perform vitamin deficiency tests and use the results as a basis for a tailored, personal dietary profile for you.
Vitamin B6 is essential for the body’s production of all but two of the twenty most important amino acids and for 118 known enzymes. A B6 deficiency weakens the body’s ability to synthesize collagen and elastin fibrils that bind tissues together. This condition makes tissues more vulnerable to injury and/or infection. Decreased collagen production takes its toll on cartilage throughout the body, but especially in the stressed CTS areas where arthritis may develop. A severe vitamin deficiency generally weakens the immune system. Cartilage deterioration is an important factor in both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
Reducing repetitive movement while correcting the B6 deficiency will speed healing. Because B6 is a diuretic it reduces the edema usually associated with CTS. Individuals taking high doses of B6 should be careful to increase water intake and perhaps may need to add magnesium and potassium supplements to replace these lost nutrients. Again, confer with your physician. It is never a mistake to drink plenty of pure (not tap) water.
In rare cases where nerve tissue has been seriously damaged, surgery might be required. However, surgery should always be a last resort after all other options have been explored.
Dr. Poehlmann is the author of Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection, available at Amazon.com and major bookstores, or click here to order now.