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How to Get Rid of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with the Help of Acupuncture

How to Get Rid of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with the Help of Acupuncture

acupuncture for carpal tunnel

Acupressure is gradually earning a name for its high efficacy in treating a wide range of chronic pain disorders. In a recent study published in the “Brain” journal concluded that acupressure helped alleviate pain for patients suffering from long-term carpal tunnel(1) syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome(2) is one of the most troublesome chronic pain disorders that leads the workers to miss about 31 days per incident on an average while workers suffering from other sorts of injuries tend to lose only nine days per incident on an average. Carpal tunnel syndrome accounts for a massive 900,000 number of cases across the US each year.

The study revealed that acupressure helped in reducing symptoms through “remapping” the patient’s brain. The researchers added that acupuncture(3) also delivered significant healing benefits at the pain source in the wrists of the patient.

The researchers were impressed by the low-risk and minimal-invasive nature of acupuncture to provide substantial relief from carpal tunnel syndrome.

    1. Causes
    2. Diagnosis
    3. Why Acupuncture
    4. Acupuncture Points
    5. Conventional Treatment Methods

What is Carpal Tunnel and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Image:ShutterStock

A disorder characterized by tingling, numbness, and pain in the arm and hand, Carpal tunnel syndrome is a widespread condition that affects millions of people around the world each year. The state takes place when any main nerve to your hand, known as a median nerve, gets compressed or squeezed.

As in most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome tends to worsen over time. Therefore, timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment are vital. Initially, symptoms managed with simple methods such as refraining from certain activities or using a typical wrist splint.

However, in case the compression on the person’s median nerve persists, it can result in permanent nerve damage and an increase in the severity of the symptoms. For preventing permanent nerve damage, surgery is the final resort. The operation aims to release the pressure on the person’s median nerve.

[Read: Relieve Carpal Tunnel Pain Naturally]

Causes for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

In general, the pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome is due to the excess pressure being exerted on the person’s median nerve and in the patient’s wrist. Swelling is due to the irritation of the nerve and swelling. The most typical reason behind the inflammation can be an underlying health condition that leads to swelling in the patient’s wrist and may obstruct the flow of blood at times.

Some of the most common health conditions linked to carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Fluid retention from menopause or pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Trauma or fracture to the wrist
  • Autoimmune ailments like rheumatoid arthritis

The symptoms of carpal tunnel may worsen if the wrist is repeatedly overextended.

Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Doctors diagnose carpal tunnel with a combination of tests known as nerve conduction study, a physical examination, and your overall medical history.

In general, a physical evaluation consists of a comprehensive assessment of your neck, shoulder, wrist, and hand to rule out other possible causes of nerve compression.

The physician observes your wrists to identify signs of deformities, swelling, and tenderness. The strength of muscles and sensation to your fingers are also analyzed.

Nerve conduction tests are intended to record the speed at which your nerve conducts the impulses. In case the conduction of nerve impulses is slower as compared to normal readings as the nerve runs through the patient’s hand, you are likely to be suffering from a case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

[Read: Essential Oils for Carpal Tunnnel]

Why is Acupuncture Helpful in Carpal Tunnel Treatment?

Acupuncture on Hand
Image:ShutterStock

Though there’s a lack of research to accurately ascertain the effectiveness of acupressure therapy in curing carpal tunnel pain, the few carried out so far have revealed that acupuncture works well to improve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Important studies carried out in this regard during 2012 and 2016 reported that the participants experienced substantial pain relief with regular acupressure practice.

However, the patients also reported specific physical changes as induced by the practice.

The researchers revealed that the signals received by the brain after an acupressure needle is inserted into the skin have the potential to “remap” the mind, thence leading to the modification of pain signals coming from the patient’s wrist.

Moreover, they claimed that the acupressure needle that punctures at the pain site causes the patient’s body to send an extra volume of blood to that site, like what happens when we are bruised. That additional blood can help the nerve to heal.

[Read: Acupuncture for Wrist Pain]

Acupuncture Points For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Acupuncture Needles
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While several pressure points can help manage the carpal tunnel syndrome, the following four are most active and widely used  pressure points for Carpal Tunnel as part of traditional Chinese treatment for pain disorder:

1. Large Intestine 4 (LI-4)

This pressure point is in the muscle belly between your first finger and the thumb. It is widely used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Use the middle or index finger and the thumb of your opposite hand to perform a sustained, slow pinching movement to the muscle belly.
  • Sit comfortably and firmly but gently hold the pressure for some 1 to 3 minutes.
  • You will feel a reduction in hand numbness on applying firm pressure to this point.
  • It is one of the sturdiest points in the body and is also useful to treat neck pain and headaches.

2. Large Intestine 5 (LI-5)

This pressure point is found on your wrist’s lateral side posteriorly (i.e., slightly backward) between your thumb’s base and the head of your radius bone.

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  • Use the thumb of your opposite hand, middle or index finger to apply firm but gentle pressure to this point.
  • Gently but firmly hold the pressure for some 1 to 3 minutes.
  • You will feel a reduction in hand numbness on applying firm pressure to this point.

3. Lung-8 (Lu-8)

This carpal tunnel acupuncture point is found on your wrist’s lateral side a little forward (i.e., anteriorly on your palm side of your hand) between your radius bone’s head and the thumb’s base.

  • Use your middle or index finger and the thumb of your opposite hand to exert moderate pressure to this point.
  • Hold with a firm but gentle pressure for about 1 to 3 minutes.
  • You will feel a reduction in hand numbness on applying firm pressure to this point.

4. Pericardium 7 (Pc-7)

This is at the center of your wrist’s palm side, at the fold lines of your wrist between flexor tendons.

  • Use your middle or index finger to apply moderate pressure to this point.
  • Hold with a firm but gentle pressure for about 1 to 3 minutes.
  • You will feel a reduction in hand numbness on applying firm pressure to this point.

Conventional Ways to Treat Carpal Tunnel

Several treatment methods can be used to improve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome along with reducing the associated inflammation. Some of the commonly used conventional treatment methods include:

1. Reduce Intake of Inflammatory Foods

Consume less processed food and sugar to aid in decreasing the amount of inflammation present in your body.

2. Decrease Repetitive Wrist Movements

If you are continually holding or lifting with repetitive movements, consider taking a break or stop such motions entirely if possible.

3. Decrease Time Spent on a Computer Keyboard

If symptoms worsen when you’re using a computer keyboard, take frequent breaks or stop using keyboard entirely if possible.

As an alternative, you can consider placing a soft object such as a small roll pillow or a soft towel under your forearms for reducing the continual pressure being exerted on your wrists by the keyboard while typing.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be a painful condition that calls for surgery as the last option if the patient fails to respond to conservative treatment and medications.

Numerous proponents of traditional Chinese treatment procedures claim that you should give acupuncture for carpal syndrome a try before resorting to medications, or an invasive sort of treatment such as surgery. D

uring the last couple of decades, there has been a steady increase in the number of patients opting for alternative therapies such as yoga, acupressure, and acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Not just for carpal tunnel, acupuncture is widely recommended in several types of research and study guidelines for the treatment and prevention of different chronic pain conditions. However, you should consult an acupuncturist, chiropractor, or physiotherapist for proper examination and treatment of the syndrome and practice these acupuncture techniques under their close supervision.

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