By Neeki Smith, L.Ac, The Center: Natural Health Specialists

Acupuncture and oriental medicine are very effective for carpel tunnel
syndrome.  At the Center, we have helped many patients with this painful
disorder and have kept several clients out of surgery.

First and foremost, even if you have been diagnosed with carpel tunnel, we would
re-evaluate to see if that’s what you really have. It may turn out that you have
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).  TOS and carpel tunnel have similar signs and
symptoms; numb, tingling or burning hands, pain in the wrists and/or hands.

In TOS the veins, nerves, and arteries are pinched in the shoulder area, usually
between the first rib and the collar bone, due to tight muscles.

In carpel tunnel, the veins, nerves, and arteries are pinched in the wrist area,
usually due to inflammation from over-use.  The wrist is kept stable and in place
by a connective tissue called the retinaculum, which acts like a wide band around
the wrist.  The retinaculum does not stretch and when the tissue becomes
inflamed, there is nowhere for the swollen tissue to go except inwards - pinching
the nerves, veins and arteries and causing pain, tingling, numbness, or burning
in the local area.

In TOS, the same symptoms occur in the wrist, even though the pinching is
occurring in the shoulder area, making carpel tunnel and TOS difficult to tell
apart.

Treatment consists of a series of acupuncture treatments, Tui Na (a form of
therapeutic massage), a topical anti-inflammatory, stretches, and sometimes
Chinese herbs and other supplements, depending on your case.  The doctor
recommended brace works well, although some people complain about not being
able to sleep with the brace on.  Of course, reducing the use of your hands and
wrists will help too, but that is not possible for most people.

Doing ALL of the recommended treatments AT THE SAME TIME is vitally
important.  You can’t try the brace or stretches alone and say it didn’t work – it is
a comprehensive treatment program that takes a number of weeks, and
sometimes months in severe cases.

Results of treatment vary depending on the severity of your case and your
compliance to treatment recommendations.  Most clients have a significant
reduction in symptoms within the first 3-4 treatments, usually enough to keep
them out of surgery.

Some people get 80% better, and then stop treatment because the symptoms
become tolerable.  Stopping treatment early is not advisable, as the symptoms
tend to recur or linger if treatment is not complete, compounding the problem and
making complete recovery much more difficult.

Acupuncture and oriental medicine is a viable alternative to drugs and surgery
for carpel tunnel syndrome and TOS.
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and Acupuncture
    – Is it effective?
Articles & Facts
From The Center: Natural Health Specialists
Neeki Smith,  Licensed Acupuncturist with The Center: Natural
Health Specialists.