One of the most common job-related injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is responsible for the highest number of days lost among all work-related injuries. With more than two million visits to physicians’ offices and approximately 465,000 carpal tunnel release operations each year, it is the most frequent surgery of the hand and wrist.
Acupuncture is extremely effective at treating carpal tunnel syndrome, eliminating the need for surgery or the use of anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids and recent studies suggest that acupuncture may be more effective than corticosteroids when it comes to treating carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist made up of ligaments and bones. The median nerve and the tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the forearm pass through this tightly spaced tunnel. Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as median nerve entrapment, occurs when swelling or irritation of the nerve or tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move.
Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers. The symptoms often first appear during the night. As symptoms worsen, people might feel pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. If not properly treated, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause irreversible nerve damage and permanent deterioration of muscle tissue.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Acupuncture
From an Oriental medicine perspective, carpal tunnel syndrome is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi and blood within the area and is associated with cold, dampness or wind penetrating the muscles and sinews of the wrist. In addition to reducing swelling, inflammation, and pain in the wrist, acupuncture addresses any headaches, neck pain, shoulder stiffness and sleeping problems that often accompany this condition. Your treatment may also take into account underlying conditions that contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome including obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, diabetes, and hormonal changes due to pregnancy and menopause.
If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, schedule a free consultation with Boynn McIntire to find out how acupuncture can help you. Appointments may be made online or by calling All and One Acupuncture in NE Portland at (503) 281-6909.