Acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist at the carpal tunnel, hence its name. It affects the wrist and hand.
Around 1 in 10 people develop carpal tunnel syndrome at some point and affects women more.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome
Typical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome includes oral steroids, corticosteroid injections and night splinting.
Acupuncture is very effective at relieving pain and regulating energy and blood flow, which can relieve mild to moderate carpal tunnel symptoms in the short term.
From a biomedicine viewpoint, accupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. Electro acupuncture is particularly useful in the treatment of CTS.
Controlled trails have shown the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points may specifically help patients with moderate carpal tunnel syndrome by:
- Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain
- Increasing the release of adenosine, which blocks pain
- Regulating the limbic network of the brain, including the hypothalamus and amygdala
- Inducing beneficial cortical plasticity (i.e. conditioning the brain to stop processing sensory nerve input from the affected fingers, which leads to improved symptoms)
Evidence based clinical trial of acupuncture versus sham acupuncture shown an increased functional status of brain response in patients with CTS.
Download my carpal tunnel syndrome factsheet.