Senior man holding his wrist

By Dr John Barnett

Big news for the half a million Americans who get surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome each year. Carpal Tunnel pain, the most common diagnosis for wrist and hand pain in America has been shown to respond well to Acupuncture therapy. Acupuncture is a non-invasive, natural treatment that is the mainstay of Chinese Medicine. The National Institute of Health announced that new research from Brain: a Journal of Neurology showed “better sustained symptom improvement at 3-month followup” for patients treated with acupuncture.

Not only did the patients getting acupuncture notice less Carpal Tunnel pain, the researchers were able to show measurable changes in the brain that demonstrate why they response to acupuncture was so positive. It is also interesting to note that this study used both “local acupuncture”, putting the needles into the affected wrist, and “distal acupuncture” where the needles are placed in specific points in the opposite ankle. These distal points were found to relieve the pain from carpal tunnel just as well as the local acupuncture.

Here are some details from the study, “Participants received 16 treatments over 8 weeks. The researchers assessed pain and tingling/pricking symptoms at baseline, following therapy, and at 3-month followup via the Boston Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Questionnaire. They also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify points in the somatosensory cortex of the brain that correspond to stimulated wrist/ankle points and assessed median sensory nerve conduction latency (both techniques were conducted at baseline and following therapy).”

In our experience Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) responds very well to acupuncture. The reason for this is because CTS pain usually comes from trigger points that are aggravated by repetitive strain on the arm and hand muscles. This can be from mouse & computer work, cell phone use & texting, sewing, or many other activities. Most patients notice improvement within the first few treatments. They also find that when properly treated, the results last for years and years. More information about how acupuncture treats Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is here.

If you or someone you know is suffering from wrist pain or CTS encourage them to see an acupuncturist before they try surgery. Acupuncture is very relaxing and there is no recovery time as with surgery.