Carpal Tunnel Syndrome-How Acupuncture Helps

I’ve seen a large number of cases of carpal tunnel syndrome in my 30+ years of practicing acupuncture, and though it can be caused by any activity that involves repetitive flexing of the wrist, many of my patients have been office workers who use computer keyboards for hours every day, not to mention hairdressers, who are constantly using their hands. The problem is certainly not isolated to these professions and is also found among athletes who play racket sports, and cyclists, who tend to lean into the handlebars of their bicycles, putting pressure on their wrists.

Overuse of the wrist can create a narrowing in the carpal tunnel which compresses the median nerve and creates intermittent numbness, pain and tingling affecting various fingers. It often gets worse during sleep and during work or play that require repetitive flexion of the wrists.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is more prevalent among women and is also more common when certain conditions exist—namely diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism and pregnancy. In the cases I have seen, there was usually a history of overuse of the wrist.

Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome respond well to acupuncture. After 3-5 treatments, the symptoms can be reduced by up to 50%, though complete recovery may take up to 10 treatments. In cases where there has been no response after 4 treatments, the patient is advised to see an orthopedist. (1)

It is helpful to evaluate posture, as slouching with a forward carriage of the shoulders can predispose a person to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, not to mention other problems. Office workers tend to develop such a slouch. In this case, I like to combine acupuncture with manual myofascial release techniques, such as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), to release tight muscles and help correct the posture.

(1) Matt Callison, L.Ac., Sports Medicine Acupuncture, San Diego, CA. Acusport Education, 2019, p 508

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