Prospective med/cal school students

and abortion


Treating carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy

According to a study by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 40 percent of the nation's medical schools routinely question prospective students about their attitudes on abortion.

None of the schools which questioned students about these attitudes felt that this item affected the candidate's chances of admission.

What can you tell me about carpal tunnel syndrome which I have been diagnosed as having in my right wrist? How can I treat it naturally? The best most doctors can do for me is to prescribe an arthritis medica- tion (Motrin) which I refuse to take because this isn't arthritis and because the side effects of Motrin are nasty.——N.H.

The carpal tunnel is a structure in the wrist containing the flexor tendons of the hand and an important nerve. Pain in this area can be associated with a variety of conditions including obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, pregnancy, pituitary disorders (acromegaly) and multiple myeloma (a bone marrow tumor). Sometimes the painful wrist is the earliest sign of these conditions.

In the large majority of cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, the doctor is unable to discover the cause. Therefore, he tries to relieve the pain by splints to immobilize the wrist or by giving local injections of hydro- cortisone. These injections may provide relief, but the relapse rate is high. As in your case, doctors also may turn to anti—inflammatory agents. If all these measures fail, they turn to surgery.

The side effects of Motrin can be quite serious. There also are plenty of problems involved in hydrocortisone injections, e.g., the doctor must be very careful not to inject the nerve.

Since the medical treatment for this condition is so often unsatis- factory, I have for years been recommending that my patients consult experts in muscle and joint therapy, including physiatrists (M.D. spec- ialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation), physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and athletic coaches. Plenty of the patients seem to have been helped.

My wife, who is five months pregnant, is suffering constant pain in her hands from carpal tunnel syndrome. She has been taking 350 mg of Vitamin B6 daily with no improvement. The doctors say they won't operate until six months after our baby is born. They tell her to take aspirin or Tylenol, but she won't take either because of the baby.

We tried putting a splint on her arm to keep her hand tilted slightly backwards. While that helped for a while, it doesn't help any more.——T.P.

I am overjoyed that your wife's doctors won't operate until six months after the baby is born, since by then your wife's carpal tunnel syndrome may disappear all by itself. If her doctors don't believe this, ask them to consult Conn's "Current Therapy" (W.B. Saunders, l978) which clearly states, in the section on carpal tunnel syndrome, "When associated with pregnancy, the syndrome generally disappears after delivery."

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