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Acupuncture stops pain from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

Acupuncture is an effective treatment modality for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Independent investigations confirm that acupuncture is more effective than usual care, including anti-inflammatory medications. Acupuncture successfully alleviates pain, inflammation, numbness, and restores motor dexterity. Electromyography confirms the results, including improvements across multiple parameters (e.g., median nerve sensory latency, sensory nerve conduction velocity, sensory amplitude, motor latency, motor nerve conduction velocity, motor amplitude).

About Carpal Tunnel

The carpal tunnel is a canal connecting the forearm and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome pain and numbness is due to compression of the median nerve traveling through the canal. Researchers demonstrate that acupuncture benefits the median nerve and alleviates pain. Usual care for late-stage carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) often includes surgery. Usual care treatment for early to mid-stage CTS typically involves pharmaceutical medications, physical therapy; or alternatively, acupuncture and tuina massage.

Early diagnosis and intervention is crucial in mitigating median nerve damage and restoring nerve function. Carpal tunnel braces may be used to relieve CTS symptoms, but may encumber patients by limiting hand movements. Acupuncture therapy preserves freedom of movement because braces are unnecessary. Acupuncture alleviates median nerve compression, in part, by reducing edema and accelerating axonal regeneration. The axon is the lengthy threadlike part of a nerve cell carrying impulses. Additional research confirms that paraffin wraps combined with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs also promotes clinical improvements.

Research teams provide a general overview of acupuncture for the treatment of CTS in their discussions. TCM differential diagnostic categories for carpal tunnel syndrome include wind-invasion of the muscles, cold-dampness affecting the ligaments, or qi and blood stasis blocking the channels. Local acupoint selections are commonly implemented to enhance the microcirculation of blood to the median nerve and carpal tunnel. The treatment principle is to restore the flow of qi and blood to the area, relieve pressure, promote regeneration, dredge the channels, and reduce tension. Common acupoints recommended for the treatment of CTS include the following:

  • Daling (PC7)

  • Neiguan (PC6)

  • Yangxi (LI5)

  • Hegu (LI4)

  • Waiguan (TB5)

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