What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
You’re doing your usual routine, either dropping off the last delivery or writing the last page to your most important novel, but gradually you’ve experienced some numbness and tingling which has now become worse. You go get check out and find out that you have carpal tunnel syndrome. This occurs due to compression
of the median nerve, which goes through the wrist via the carpal tunnel. The nerve is responsible for sensation as well as some movement, and narrowing of the tunnel can occur if the tendons around become inflamed or irritated.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
The palm, thumb, index, middle, and the side of the ring finger that is next to the middle finger are mostly affected. Symptoms will began gradually, with numbness, tingling, a burning sensation, and weakness. Some may even experience swollen fingers with any sign of swelling. Other symptoms include:
- Weak Grip
- Wasting of the muscle under the thumb
- Pain extending to the elbows
- Lack of fine finger movement
Individuals who work in certain industries and perform certain activities are more likely to be affected by carpal tunnel syndrome, such as sewing, writing, driving, and excessive use hand tools. Assemblers are three times more likely than data entry workers to acquire the injury, and women are 3 times more likely than men as well to develop carpal tunnel2.
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Usually Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will go away on it’s own after a few weeks and a splint is used for support. Anti-inflammatory medications may be used, including local injections of corticosteroids to reduce the swelling, which may have only a short term pain relieving effect. In a collection of twelve studies and over 650 participants showed that 20 months after the treatment there was no improvement between corticosteroid injections and tablets. 2 trials showed no difference between corticosteroids and other treatments such as anti-inflammatory drugs used in conjunction with wrist braces.
Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel
A 1997 NIH consensus statement concluded that acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative for managing CTS5. A recent randomized control study in 2009 found that acupuncture worked just as well as the anti-inflammatory drug prednisone, and even showed more of a decrease for participants suffering from nocturnal awaking6. Research is continually being done to explore more benefits of acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome. It provides options for those who wishing to avoid using steroid drugs and surgery.
Remember to consult your primary healthcare provider for any health concerns or medical questions.
1. Mayo Clinic. 2011. Prednisone and other corticosteroids: Balance the risks and benefits. Retrieved December 28, 2011 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/steroids/HQ01431
2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2011. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm
3. PubMed Health. 2010. Carpal tunnel syndrome: Do corticosteroid injections work. Retrieved December 28, 2011 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0005036/
4. PubMed Health. 2010. Retrieved December 28, 2011 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001469/
5. H Carlson, A Colbert, J Frydl, E Arnall, M Elliot, N Carlson. Current options for nonsurgical management of carpal tunnel syndrome. Int J Clin Rheumtol. 2010 February; 5(1): 129–142. doi: 10.2217/IJR.09.63
6. Yang CP, Hsieh CL, Wang NH, Li TC, Hwang KL, Yu SC, Chang MH. Acupuncture in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial.Clin J Pain. 2009 May;25(4):327-33.
Carlo St. Juste II, MAOM has a background in acupuncture with over 10 years of clinical experience and over 16 years in the Martial Arts. He has worked with various organizations to implement employee wellness programs including The City of West Covina, The City of Brea, Broadcom, USC, American Suzuki, and Pomona College. He is dedicated to promoting integrative health and has seen the benefits of knowledge and implementation first hand.