Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition caused by compression of the median nerve- located at the wrist. It is reported in 0.6% - 4.9% of the general population. The main symptoms are pain, numbness and tingling in the thumb, index, middle and the thumb side of the ring fingers. The symptoms may progress to permanent feeling or movement losses in the advanced stages. Treatment is either surgical or conservative. Surgical intervention is recommended for moderate to severe CTS. Patients with mild to moderate symptoms are treated with a wrist splint, alteration of daily activities, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and local or oral corticosteroids.
Lavendar (lavendula stoechas) oil is a topical or oral essential oil. It is used as an herbal medication for a variety of illnesses. Studies have shown that the active ingredient in lavender has anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive (the process of blocking the detection of painful or injurious stimuli), sedative and analgesic therapeutic properties.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of topical lavender oil in treatment of mild to moderate CTS. Forty-eight patients were included in the trial. Approximately ½ received the intervention and ½ received the placebo. Both groups wore a night splint orthosis. Patients were instructed to apply either drug or placebo ointment on their wrists in the morning and evening time for 40 days. The Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire was the primary outcome measure scale. This tool evaluated symptoms, severity and functionality. The comparison of the mean difference of BCTQ for both groups showed a significantly lower score for the intervention group than the placebo group. This is a positive finding.
Pain intensity, isometric pinch and power grip were accessed as part of a secondary outcome measure. The results identified the intervention group as having higher pinch grip strength score after treatment than the placebo group.
The results of this study suggested that topical lavender oil may be beneficial in the treatment of mild to moderate CTS. Lavender oil is a rich source of anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antinociceptive agents. Improvement in symptoms, severity, functionality, pain scale and pinch grip strength were found to be positive results of this application.
*Journal of Hand Therapy, Volume 31, Number 4, October/December 2018, pp 437-442.
Authors: Bina Eftekharsadat MD, Peyman Roomizadeh MD, Shervin Torabi MD, Fariba Heshmati-Afshar MD, Fatemah Jahanjoo MD, Arash Babaei-Ghazani MD.