Acupuncture offers a non-surgical solution to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Are you or someone you know suffering from symptoms related to carpal tunnel syndrome?
Here at Brevard Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine we use a safe, gentle, and effective protocol to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Our protocol is based on clinically proven research conducted by a team of scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital. Encouraged by generations of use of acupuncture for pain control, the team of researchers set out to study how acupuncture might be helpful in carpal tunnel syndrome. Using techniques to study brain images and blood flow, the researchers determined that 8 weeks of acupuncture therapy showed a significant reduction in pain symptoms that persisted for months after treatment. 1
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Located within the wrist, the carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in which the median nerve is situated. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an impingement disorder resulting from a narrowing of the carpal tunnel and subsequent compression of the median nerve. The cause of carpal tunnel syndrome varies and can be due to many different variances, such as: changes in anatomy due to previous injuries, having a smaller bone structure, underlying inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, being overweight, and repetitive workplace or overuse injuries.
What are the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Tingling or numbness in fingers or hand
- Feelings of electricity radiating into the fingers
- Pain and tingling sensation that travels up the arm and into the shoulder
- Hand weakness and inability to hold objects for long periods of time
- Dropping objects, and difficulty in grasping small items.
- Difficulty making a fist or spreading fingers apart
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be diagnosed by a Medical Doctor using a combination of history, physical examination tests, and nerve conduction studies. Early diagnosis and treatment is important to avoid damage to the median nerve. At Brevard Acupuncture we do not offer a formal diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome; however, we do provide treatment of suspected carpal tunnel syndrome.
Can Acupuncture Help Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Yes, acupuncture is a natural, non-surgical method that can help to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Our protocol and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome is based upon an eight-week evidence based research study as well as the combined experience of our staff of doctors and therapists. Treatment will be customized based upon your unique needs and medical history.
Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are three high quality research studies showing evidence that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.
A 2014 research study titled Clinical effectiveness of acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome enrolled participants in 24 electroacupuncture sessions over 16 weeks to evaluate acupuncture in the treatment of carpal tunnel symptoms. Treatment efficacy was assessed using a short clinical questionnaire after each session. The study found that electroacupuncture could exert positive therapeutic effects for carpal tunnel patients, as evidenced by improved symptomatology and grip strength, improved nerve conductivity, and physical assessment.1
A 2017 double-blind placebo controlled study titled, Rewiring the primary somatosensory cortex in carpal tunnel syndrome with acupuncture enrolled 80 participants in three groups to evaluate carpal tunnel syndrome and acupuncture. The groups were divided into true acupuncture and sham acupuncture, with true acupuncture patients receiving treatment along traditional acupuncture points and sham acupuncture receiving fake needles and points with no clinical relevance. The patients received 16 electroacupuncture treatments over an 8 weeks period and only those who received true acupuncture had lasting clinical benefit at the 3 month follow up. Researchers also noted Improvement in nerve conduction scores as well as positive changes in brain microstructure in the area relating to the affected limb. 2
A 2009 Study titled Acupuncture in Patients With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial, aimed to investigate the efficacy of acupuncture compared with steroid treatment in patients with mild-to-moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. A total of 77 patients were randomly divided into two groups, one group received 4 weeks of oral corticosteroid medication, and the group received 4 weeks of acupuncture. A standard pain questionnaire as well as nerve conduction studies were performed at baseline. Both the oral steroid group and the acupuncture group has improvement in symptoms; however, patients who received acupuncture treatment had a significant improvement in the nerve conduction test when compared with the steroid group at week 4. 3
The researchers conclude that short-term acupuncture treatment is as effective as short-term low-dose prednisolone for mild-to-moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. 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.
Our treatment protocol is supported by clinical research on acupuncture and carpal tunnel syndrome. A total of 16 acupuncture treatments over 8 weeks will be performed, consisting of: three weekly treatments for 3 weeks, two weekly treatments for 2 weeks, and finally one weekly treatment for 3 weeks. Our protocol is designed to facilitate maximum medical improvement. Depending on the unique presentation of the patient, medical massage may be incorporated.
Every person, condition, and circumstance is unique and therefore an estimation of how long treatment will take is very difficult to assess without knowing the full health history of an individual. However, many patients notice an improvement in their condition such as a decrease in pain intensity and/or symptom frequency within four to five visits. Treatment should be continued for sometime after experiencing initial relief in order to help sustain progress and not retrogress, allowing additional time for the healing process to take effect as well as helping to facilitate maximum medical improvement.
Our protocol is based upon research that found carpal tunnel syndrome symptom reduction persists 3 months after cessation of acupuncture therapy (Maeda, Yumi et al., (2017). These improvement were similar to previous research studies. The improvements were measured as a reduction in symptoms, and improvement in nerve conduction suggesting that the positive changes in the brain “neuroplasticity” following therapy can also be sustained.
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