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Sugar jab could ease the discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome

Sugar jab could ease the discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome

A sugar jab may be used to treat the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The condition, which affects over 1.5 million people in the U.K. alone, occurs when a nerve running into the hand becomes compressed or even trapped while travelling through a narrow passage in the wrist full of connective tissue and intricate bones, known as the carpal tunnel. It’s this nerve which impacts movement in the arm and fingers, therefore when the nerve is trapped it can cause pain, limited action and even numbness or tingling in the hand.

Now, scientists in Taiwan predict that a sugary mixture injected straight into the hand will stimulate the tissue and reduce inflammation around the carpal tunnel. Doctors are looking to test their theory on 60 people suffering from the problem, using a mixture of water and 5 per cent dextrose, a type of sugar from corn. This idea stems from previous studies using the injection on people diagnosed with osteoarthritis, a condition in which joints become stiff and painful, while research on animals found the sugar mixture can heal damage created by carpal tunnel syndrome.

While it’s not exactly known why the nerve gets trapped, it’s thought pregnancy and diabetes are just two of the conditions which increase the risk of it happening, with the first apparently triggered by blood pressure on the nerve increasing while the second may be down to small blood vessels thickening.

The 60 patients, who will be tested at Tri-Service General Hospital in Taiwan, will either be given a dose of dextrose or a saline solution into their wrist with the help of an ultrasound scan, with their carpal tunnel syndrome monitored over six months.

“It looks like a very interesting idea,” Professor Sam Eldabe, a consultant in pain medicine at The James Cook University Hospital, said of the sugar jabs. “The early results from the study where the treatment was compared to placebo are also promising. We await results of the upcoming trial with interest.”

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