While there are specific treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), dietary changes are gaining attention. For example, foods that reduce inflammation may help CTS symptoms.

CTS is a common condition affecting the hands and wrists, causing pain, numbness, and tingling. It can significantly impact an individual as weakness and limited hand function affect daily life and work.

Most doctors recommend treatment options such as splints, physical therapy, medications, and surgery. However, some people may want to supplement these with alternative therapies like nutrition.

There is no single diet that experts recommend for CTS. However, studies show that a Mediterranean-style diet can help ease inflammation.

This article delves into the relationship between food and CTS and highlights specific foods for carpal tunnel that may offer benefits in alleviating symptoms.

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Diet may have a role in managing CTS as it can impact nerve health and inflammation, which plays a significant role in the development and progression of the condition.

A person may find that specific dietary changes can help manage inflammation and potentially alleviate CTS symptoms. For example, studies show that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, such as the Mediterranean diet, can ease inflammation.

Consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts, may also help combat inflammation.

Conversely, a diet high in processed foods could increase inflammation and negatively affect symptoms. These foods may increase inflammatory proteins, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), a cytokine linked to CTS.

Incorporating specific foods into one’s diet may reduce inflammation and CTS symptoms and promote overall health.

Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, and sardines are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. According to a small 2020 study, these anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective substances can reduce the numbness and pain of CTS.

Learn more about foods high in omega-3s.

Foods high in antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that can help protect the cells from harmful molecules called free radicals. When free radicals accumulate in the body, they can lead to oxidative stress, a condition associated with chronic inflammation and numerous health problems.

Therefore, eating foods rich in antioxidants may reduce inflammation.

Antioxidant-rich foods include:

  • berries
  • dark leafy greens
  • citrus fruits
  • colorful vegetables
  • walnuts, pistachios, and other nuts
  • fatty fish like salmon

Learn more about foods high in antioxidants.

Foods high in vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for strong, healthy nerves and may help reduce pain. Therefore, it may support those with CTS.

Foods high in vitamin B12 include:

  • clams
  • liver
  • salmon
  • tuna
  • eggs
  • trout

Learn more about foods high in B12.

Managing CTS centers around avoiding foods that promote inflammation and worsen symptoms.

Refined starches and sugars

Refined starches include foods made from grains stripped of fiber, nutrients, and bran. Examples include:

  • sugary breakfast cereals
  • white bread
  • white flour
  • regular pasta
  • white rice
  • ice cream
  • cakes, muffins, and cookies
  • candy

Saturated and trans fats

Many highly processed foods are also high in unhealthy saturated or trans fats.

These include:

  • processed lunch meats
  • margarine
  • microwave popcorn
  • chocolate spread
  • baked goods

Fried and salty foods

French fries, fried chicken, and chips can be high in trans fat and salt. This can contribute to inflammation and fluid retention.

Swelling in the tissues can increase pressure on the median nerve, worsening CTS symptoms.


Alcohol can increase inflammation levels in the body. A 2018 study found that long-term, excessive alcohol consumption could increase a person’s risk of CTS.

Therefore, it is a good idea to limit alcohol intake.

If a person’s diet lacks omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin B12, they may benefit from taking them in supplement form. While consuming nutrients through food sources is typically advisable, supplements can make it easier to meet nutrition goals for some people.

Further resources

For more in-depth resources about vitamins, minerals, and supplements, visit our dedicated hub.

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Early detection and treatment of CTS can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life. If a person is experiencing symptoms, they should contact a healthcare professional.

Furthermore, people with diagnosed CTS should follow up with a doctor if symptoms become more severe or cause loss of function, despite self-care measures.

Managing CTS involves a comprehensive approach that may include dietary modifications to reduce inflammation.

Incorporating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin B12, and turmeric may help reduce inflammation and alleviate some symptoms.

Conversely, a person should limit or avoid foods that promote inflammation, such as refined starches, sugars, saturated and trans fats, fried and salty foods, and excessive alcohol.