Carpal tunnel syndrome can prove debilitating for sufferers who rely on their hands and wrists to perform their work or complete countless everyday tasks. This compression of the median nerve in the wrist can deprive fingers of feeling while also causing pain and other annoying problems, driving many sufferers to seek surgery.
If you find yourself plagued by carpal tunnel syndrome but dread the idea of going under the knife, you should know the ancient art of acupuncture can relieve your symptoms and help you regain normal function without surgery or drugs. Learn more from the following frequently asked questions about this problem and its resolution.
Why Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Occur?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) belongs to a family of problems (collectively known as entrapment neuropathies) in which compression of peripheral nerves causes pain and/or weakness in the extremities. The median nerve affected in CTS runs through the wrist into the hand, relaying signals to the thumb and first three fingers.
Since the carpal tunnel doesn’t provide much extra room for the median nerve to begin with, swelling and inflammation of tissues surrounding the tunnel can easily pinch the nerve tissue. This kind of inflammation often occurs in people who constantly use (or overuse) their hands and wrists in sports, work, and hobby activities.
What Potential Problems Do Standard Medical Treatments Pose?
You may have heard doctors recommend surgery as a means of relieving the nerve compression caused by carpal tunnel. While this approach can indeed take the pressure off and restore nerve function, it can take months for you to recover completely. Surgery also comes with risks of complications, from scarring to infection.
Non-surgical care for carpal tunnel syndrome may involve a combination of anti-inflammatory drugs, prescription steroid medications, and the use of a wrist splint. However, both prescribed and over-the-counter drugs can cause complications and interact with other medicines, while a splint can prove bulky and uncomfortable.
How Do Acupuncturists Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Acupuncturists employ acupuncture to improve the flow of Qi (a Chinese Medical term loosely translated as life energy) and blood to the tissues of the wrist. This boost in circulation can help reduce the swelling and inflammation that puts the median nerve under pressure, allowing the nerve to function more normally.
Acupuncture techniques may also help a damaged median nerve heal itself more quickly and thoroughly. The strategic insertion of acupuncture needles can stimulate the nerve to manufacture a new axon, the elongated part of the nerve tissue that actually carries the signals from the brain to the fingers.
Your acupuncturist may combine needling with traditional Chinese herbs or even electricity. Acupuncture points known to help carpal tunnel syndrome go by the Chinese names of Daling, Neiguan, Waiguan, and Wailaogong. Your practitioner may use any combination of these points as well as other, secondary points.
What Do Studies Say About Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Medical research has confirmed that acupuncture offers relief for carpal tunnel syndrome above and beyond that of a placebo. In one study, subjects who received either traditional acupuncture or electro-acupuncture actually showed physiological improvements compared to those who only received sham acupuncture.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can damage more than just the median nerve; it can also damage the part of the brain that governs sensations of touch (the somatosensory cortex). The study indicated that the subjects receiving acupuncture actually displayed signal re-mapping in this part of the brain, resulting in long-term CTS relief.
Acupuncture & Holistic Health Associates can help you overcome your carpal tunnel syndrome through natural techniques that put your body’s own self-healing techniques to optimal use. Learn more and schedule an initial appointment by contacting our office today.