Carpal tunnel syndrome was first documented in 1854. It’s a burning sensation, numbness, tingling or weakness in the hand. It results from pressure on the median nerve that runs the length of the arm. The median nerve controls movement and feeling in the thumbs. The carpal tunnel extends from the wrist to the hand.

Untreated carpal tunnel syndrome, where the muscles at the base of the thumbs wasted away. Photo: Dr Harry Gouvas

Untreated carpal tunnel syndrome, where the muscles at the base of the thumbs wasted away. Photo: Dr Harry Gouvas

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be the product of repetitive motions of the wrist. This can arise from typing; pregnancy; or conditions that include arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism and obesity. Sufferers may have to wear a splint while abed. It’s easier to treat if diagnosed early, but most people don’t realise they’re affected until it’s too late. The most severe cases feature extreme pain. There can be serious and permanent nerve damage if the median nerve is continually pressured, causing even worse symptoms.

The problems that ensue

Carpal tunnel syndrome might make you drop things. It may prevent you from sleeping well, leaving you moody or making poor decisions. The resultant chronic pain can easily lead to depression. People have in the past declared that they felt like cutting their hands off.

Who gets it?

Around three percent of people will suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Only 10 percent of cases occur in people below the age of 30. Wimmen are thrice as likely to be struck as men, possibly because their carpal tunnel is smaller. Some occupations are more prone to it if people have to repeatedly make the same movements of their arms. Examples are assembly line workers, bakers, cashiers, hair stylists, musicians and ironically, marijuana trimmers. Taking frequent breaks reduces the risk, and there are also stretching exercises.


There are few treatment options. Doctors can prescribe steroids and other drugs. These, however, have unpleasant side effects, like constipation, diarrhoea, gas, nausea, stomach pain and vomiting. Taking steroids for too long is to be avoided since they can weaken bones to the point of breaking. People can also develop a tolerance for prescription drugs. The last resort is surgery, but patients will still suffer for a long time because they have to heal, taking months.

As so often, this calls for cannabis. Anyone who might be subject to drug testing at work can use a topical product.

Take cannabis for the pain

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes neuropathic pain, which smoking cannabis reduces. Studies by Quebec’s McGill University in 2010 and the University of California, San Francisco, in 2007 backed this up.

Take cannabis for the inflammation

Carpal tunnel syndrome makes the median nerve inflamed. Cannabis is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Evidence came in the shape of studies of animals. One was by Tongji University in 2013 that looked at pancreatitis and another by the University of Sao Paulo in 2012 that centred on acute lung injury. There have been other relevant studies.

Take cannabis for sleeping problems

The benefits of cannabis for sleeping problems need not be spelt out, but you can see them spelt out here.

Just take cannabis full stop.

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