Acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome

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Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most frequent entrapment neuropathy in humans. Nonsurgical management usually consists of treatments such as splinting, local steroid injections, ultrasound and oral steroids. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture therapy for symptomatic CTS may improve symptoms and aid nerve repair as well as improve sensory and motor functions. The following is a recent study regarding the effects of medical versus acupuncture treatments.

The study performed by Bahrami-Taghanaki H, et al. compared the short-term effects of acupuncture and conventional medical treatment on CTS patients’ clinical symptoms and on the results of their electrodiagnostic tests. The research team designed a randomized controlled trial at the electrodiagnostic clinic of the School of Persian and Complementary Medicine at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (Mashhad, Iran).

Sixty participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Patients in the control group received 100 mg of Celebrex as tablets, two times daily. Patients in the intervention group received 12 sessions of acupuncture, each for 30 minutes, for four weeks. The needle insertion points were the same for all sessions. Wrist braces were provided in both groups to wear at night for one month. Participants were evaluated at baseline, at the end of week four, and at a three-month follow-up (end of week 16). Clinical symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, weakness/clumsiness and night awakenings, and the results of their electrodiagnostic studies were evaluated and compared.

In total, 49 patients completed the study. There were 24 in the control group and 25 in the intervention group. Compared with the control group, the intervention group’s clinical symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling and muscular weakness (based on the global symptoms score questionnaire) improved significantly. Regarding the electrodiagnostic studies, only the distal motor latency showed a significantly greater decrease in the acupuncture group in comparison to controls (P = .001).

The study concluded that all clinical symptoms and the results of the electrodiagnostic tests improved significantly in the intervention group, and the improvements continued during the three months postintervention. The therapeutic results of acupuncture were as effective or better than those of the conventional medical treatment. Therefore, acupuncture can be suggested as a safe and suitable therapeutic method in CTS. (Altern Ther Health Med. 2019 Oct 1. pii: AT5538.)

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For more information, contact Dr. Wendy Cunningham at haydenhealth@gmail.com. Dr. Wendy is a Doctor of Chiropractic, Certified Acupuncturist and Clinical Nutritionist.

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