(Research) Acupuncture Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A study conducted in Taiwan and published in the peer-reviewed journal of Clinical Journal of Pain (Impact Factor: 3.442) found that short-term acupuncture treatment is as effective as short-term low-dose prednisolone for mild-to-moderate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). For patients who do have an intolerance or contraindication for oral steroid or for those who do not opt for early surgery, acupuncture treatment provides an alternative choice for this common syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – What is it?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a troublesome medical problem that affects about 1% of the adult population, and for some reason affects more women than men. The source of the problem is one of  pressure exerted on the nerve that passes through the center of the forearm and continues to the fingers of the wrist, where its function is to enervate the thumb, index finger and middle finger. This nerve, known as the median nerve, passes through the carpal tunnel located in the wrist and from here the name of the medical condition. The main cause of this syndrome is a narrowing of the carpal canal (tunnel) for which there is no obvious cause, although it may be a result of fractures and trauma in the area. The performance of repetitive movements of the forearm and wrist, such as typing, as well as diseases such as diabetes and arthritis, have also been found to be risk factors for the syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Symptoms

The typical symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are a feeling of tingling, pain and sometimes even numbness of the thumb and of the two fingers adjacent to it, or of the palm itself. In some cases there is a radiating feeling from the wrist towards the fingers.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – The Conventional Treatment

Treatment for the syndrome usually begins with the conservative approach of wearing a hand-supporting brace, taking anti-inflammatory drugs and injecting steroids into the hand. If there is no improvement in the condition, surgery is performed in order to dilate the canal and prevent pressure on the nerve.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Study Findings

A randomized controlled trial conducted in 2009 at the Department of Neurology at Kuang Tien General Hospital in Taiwan among patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, found that short-term treatment with acupuncture is as effective as taking low-dose steroids for a short period of time. Acupuncture treatment provides a good alternative for those patients who have intolerance to steroids or have contraindications for taking steroids orally, as well as for those who do not opt for early surgery.

The aim of the study was to investigate the efficacy of acupuncture compared to steroidal treatment in patients with mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome as measured by objective changes in neuro-transmission (NCS) studies and subjective symptom assessment for the group of subjects.

A total of 77 patients who met the study criteria were divided into two groups. The acupuncture group numbered 38 participants and the steroid group numbered 39 participants. According to a subjective questionnaire that rated the five main complaints on a scale of 1 to 10, it was found that between the second and fourth week of the study in both groups there was a marked improvement. In addition, the acupuncture group showed a significant decrease in nocturnal awakening compared to the steroid group. The acupuncture group also suffered from few side effects compared to the steroid group.

Awareness is all what matters

So don’t say you did not know! Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated by acupuncture for mild-to-moderate CTS. Thanks to acupuncture treatment, steroids and their side effects can be avoided and from my clinical experience invasive surgery with a prolonged recovery period may be avoided in some of the cases.

To go to the full study click here

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Prevention Tips

After treating and relieving inflammation in the palm of the hand it is worth checking out the use of an agronomic mouse for your computer work.

Are you interested in knowing more about Acupuncture and pain relief ?

Read the British National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline [NG193], which recommend Acupuncture as an effective option in managing chronic pain.