Carpal tunnel syndrome is where the median nerve in the forearm is compressed by the tendons resulting in varying symptoms including pain, swelling and in particular tingling and as it becomes more chronic, numbness.
The tingling can often be worse at night and can wake patients up. This problem is usually due as a result of long term repetitive use involving moderate force and can affect factory workers, musicians and many others. Women during pregnancy and patients with diabetes are also at risk.
Heiko Lade talks about carpal tunnel on Radio Kidnappers.
In Chinese medicine carpal tunnel syndrome is commonly regarded as having an underlying factor called “Overwork taxation”. Fundamentally this means that working too long and hard has depleted some of the body’s natural energy reserves and thus the sinews and tendons become malnourished and blockage results. There is a saying in traditional Chinese medicine “at night, when the person lies down to sleep, the blood flows back to the Liver to rejuvenate”. This is why patients with carpal tunnel experience more tingling and discomfort at night because the blood being weak and in limited supply from over work is not able to nourish the tendons and sinews.
When treating carpal tunnel with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine the underlying causative factor of weakness needs to be addressed and hence tonic type treatments are commonly implemented to improve and strengthen the blood and Liver.
In 2009 it was revealed in The Clinical Journal of Pain, that the efficacy of acupuncture was confirmed in patients with carpal tunnel. For the symptoms of night time awakening and motor function, the acupuncture group had better results than using steroids. Acupuncture also of course does not have dangerous and unwanted side effects that steroids have and acupuncture treats the cause of the problem and has other positive outcomes such as an increase in energy levels and well being.
Surgery for carpal tunnel is common and 450,000 people are operated on each year in the United States alone. Research on the results of carpal tunnel surgery has shown that it at best, there is general improvement in symptoms, and there are less nights of waking up with tingling. The research has also shown that surgery is about 30% more effective than just plain strapping the wrists. Surgery results of any significance are almost negligible in patients aged over 70.
If you are about to go under the knife to have your carpal tunnel operated on and are worried about mishaps such as circumferential fibrosis, nerve laceration and the median nerve being tethered in scar tissue; why not consider a course of acupuncture that has no unwanted side effects.