Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel TreatmentPain in the wrist, hand and fingers consisting of weakness, tingling, numbness or more could be an indication of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS is when the median nerve (a long nerve running from the upper arm into the hand) becomes compressed within the carpal tunnel, its only pathway to the thumb and first two fingers. According to a 2012 New York Times report carpal tunnel afflicts about 3% of women and 2% of men with peak prevalence affecting women (pregnancy has been linked to CTS development) or those older than 55 (especially if experiencing menopause). A report by the National Center of Health Statistics states that approximately 260,000 people undergo carpal tunnel release surgery per year with 47% caused by work related activities and about 1% resulting in permanent injury.

These are sobering statistics if you are struggling with acute or chronic pain in your hand and/or wrist. It seems as if conventional medicine continues to profit from CTS as Big Pharma keeps dispensing a slew of anti-inflammatory meds and many medical practitioners push for “easy” “pain-free” surgery. With these options easily insured and sometimes even advertised it seems like they are the only road to take for recovery. That is unless you give acupuncture a chance.

A 2011 randomized controlled study published in the Journal of Research and Medical Sciences concluded that, “…acupuncture can improve the overall subjective symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and could be adopted in comprehensive care programs…”

A 2009 study conducted by the Department of Neurology, Kuang Tien General Hospital in Taiwan stated that, “Short-term acupuncture treatment is as effective as short-term low-dose prednisone for mild-to-moderate CTS. For those 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.”

Sometimes all it takes is a 2,000+ year old practice to bring healing, not band-aiding, to the surface. It is a safe, nearly painless (okay sometimes you can feel a pinch but that’s about it), effective treatment that should be considered before giving into potentially toxic medications and unnecessary, invasive surgery.

Technical Placement and Presentation Response Dictate Point Choice
For a licensed acupuncturist finding the precise point locations for CTS treatment is essential. There are always textbook go-to points such as:

  • PC (pericardium) 5 through 9
  • HT (heart) 7 & 8
  • SI (small intestine) 2 through 6
  • LU (lung) 7 through 10

These points all revolve around the carpal tunnel and other local hand related locations however in addition to this protocol it may be necessary to take peripheral factors into consideration. An acupuncturist should be introspective enough to determine each individual course of action and CTS has a list of presentations to help clue them in.
These include:

  • Hormonal change (as mentioned, pregnancy or menopause)
  • Obesity & Lack of Exercise – The New York Times reported that, “A 2005 analysis indicated that weight is strongly linked to the onset of CTS in patients under the age of 63 years,”
  • Job Related RUS – Repetitive Use Syndrome (RUS) is often related to continued physical demands. Many RUS scenarios have to do with specific careers. According to a 2006 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. Department of Labor the following are some of the many careers at risk for developing CTS: Computer users and typists; meat and fish packing; airplane and car assembly; musicians; sewing machine operators, metal workers (such as welders), inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers.
  • Vices – Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol has been linked to decreased circulation resulting in the potential for developing CTS.
  • Poor Nutrition – Lacking specific minerals and vitamins (such as B-6) as well as causing internal inflammation through poor nutrition can also contribute to CTS.
  • Other Factors – CTS can be caused by injury or disease.

How It Might Work
Finding out how acupuncture works on successfully treating CTS prompted research studies by a variety of sources including Harvard Medical School, Journal of Hand Surgery and Natural Neuroscience. Some of the results compiled show how acupuncture may be able to:

  • Release adenosine which is a natural nucleoside produced by the body as, amongst other uses, an anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive (pain killer) agent.
  • Regulate the limbic system of the brain including the hypothalamus and amygdala two organs responsible for many emotional responses including fear, anxiety and pain.
  • “Induce beneficial cortical plasticity (i.e. conditioning the brain to stop processing sensory nerve input from the affected fingers maladaptively, which leads to improved symptoms)”

Acupuncture for carpal tunnel treatment may be the best option before or after attempting a conventional approach. In addition, using the skills of a naturopathic doctor to compliment acupuncture treatment may catapult your healing even more. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or CLICK HERE to schedule an online appointment.

*Please CLICK HERE to see a current list of In-Network Insurance Companies for Acupuncture that we participate with as well as insurance companies that commonly have Out-of-Network benefits. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

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