Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The carpal tunnel is a narrow, fibrous passage in the wrist that protects the median nerve, which runs down the length of arm and through the wrist into the hand. The median nerve controls some hand movement, and sensation in the thumb, index and middle fingers, and half of the ring finger. Irritation or compression of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel can cause tingling and numbness in the fingers, a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Traditional treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome usually involves anti-inflammatory medication, corticosteroid injections, and in some cases, wearing a splint. In severe cases, surgery may be suggested as a form of treatment.
Acupuncture is also considered an effective treatment option for carpal tunnel syndrome. Without the side-effects of medication, (or the risk of surgery) acupuncture treatments may help to block pain impulses from reaching the brain, and increase the level of endorphins in the body, alleviating pain. It may also increase circulation, resulting in less numbness, tingling and inflammation in the wrists and hands.
Benefits of Acupuncture
For many patients acupuncture can be an effective solution to carpal tunnel discomfort. Acupuncture treatments focus on eliminating the source of pain, unlike medications that temporarily mask symptoms. Acupuncture works to relieve the impingement or structural alteration within the nerves, reducing the swelling, inflammation and pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Acupuncture is a safer alternative to medication, as there are no side effects and no negative interactions with other treatments.
The Acupuncture Method
For carpal tunnel syndrome, acupuncture points are generally located on the wrist, arm, thumb, and hands, as well as other parts of the body including the upper back and neck. Fine needles are inserted into the skin and they may be manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. Laser acupuncture, which uses a handheld laser instead of acupuncture needles, may also be used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Acupressure is also used as a treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Instead of using needles on specific acupuncture points, pressure is applied to stimulate blood flow to the wrists and hands, easing numbness and swelling in the area.