Study under review: Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid on Clinical and Neurophysiologic Recovery of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the wrist. The symptoms include numbness, tingling, or pain in certain parts of the hand innervated by the median nerve, as shown in Figure 1. It affects around 3-6% of people, and subjective symptoms are associated with anxiety, depression, and lower quality of life. The major biomechanical risk factors for developing CTS are repetitive motions and forceful motions of the hand, as well as the combination of these two movement patterns. Non-hand-related associations exist as well, such as not exercising, poor overall physical health, and lack of job satisfaction. Other disease states, such as hypothyroidism and diabetes, are also associated with CTS.
Compression of the median nerve may cause biochemical changes in the nerve that contribute to damage. Animal studies show that crushing rat nerves increases oxidative stress levels. Furthermore, humans with CTS show higher levels of oxidative stress both in their hand tendon and globally. These observations suggest that reactive oxidative species may play a role in the development and worsening of CTS, which means there may be a way to slow its progression: through antioxidants.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a strong antioxidant candidate for managing CTS for several reasons. First, it doesn’t act on its own — ALA also regenerates several other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. These properties have led some researchers to dub it a “universal antioxidant.” Second, ALA can help with nerve recovery from crush injuries in rats. Some human trials have found it to help with CTS, too, but ALA is often combined with other supplements, making it difficult to determine the efficacy of ALA alone. The goal of the study under review was to test ALA’s efficacy as monotherapy in people with CTS who were candidates for surgical treatment.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that can lead to numbness, pain, or tingling in certain parts of the hand as a result of median nerve compression. Compression can lead to oxidative stress, which in turn can cause further damage. The study under review tested whether the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) may help mitigate this process, and be of benefit to people with CTS who were candidates for surgery.
Other Articles in Issue #42 (April 2018)
Interview: Danny Lennon, MSc
We chat with the founder of Sigma Nutrition and combat sports nutritionist Danny Lennon about his background, the unique nutritional challenges faced by combat sports athletes, and two things he thinks everyone can do to improve their lives.
Throwdown, round 3: plant vs. animal protein for bone health
We've previously covered plant vs. animal protein's effects on the metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and both rounds have ended in a draw for main outcomes. Will either come out on top this round?
Protein gains: not just for the men
Women are underrepresented in many areas of research. This study focuses specifically on female physique athletes to see how high vs. low protein intake affects fat-free mass.
From French Paradox to plaque regression
Observational data suggests that moderate wine consumption could be heart healthy. This follow-up to a study we covered in a previous NERD puts this hypothesis to the test.
Can whole grains improve insulin resistance in obese adults?
What impact does replacing refined grains with whole grains in a macronutrient-matched diet have on weight loss and glucose regulation? This study aims to find out.
A fishy relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and heart health
We review a recent major meta-analysis which examined only large and long clinical trials to find out whether omega-3’s really affect CVD risk.
Interview: Michael Crosier, PhD
In this interview, we chat with Dr. Crosier about the ins and outs of learning and teaching nutrition and dietetics, his research on vitamin K, and more.