Acupuncture Outperforms Splinting for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Acupuncture Outperforms Splinting for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Published on 03-01-2011

"ChadD" is an acupuncturist and lives in Minneapolis and has authored 367 other posts.

Researchers from the Department of Rehabilitative Medicine at the Phramongkutklao College of Medicine in Bangkok recently looked at treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The study recruited 61 patients with mild-moderate carpal tunnel syndrome and divided them into an acupuncture treatment group and a night splinting group.

The acupuncture group received electro-acupuncture 2x/week for 5 weeks and the night splinting group wore the splint for 5 weeks.

Pain scales were used to measure changes at baseline and at the end of the study. The researchers found similar reductions between the two groups in general terms of symptoms and functional ability but they found greater reductions in pain within the electro-acupuncture (EA) group.

While the study did not go any further than the initial treatments, it does seem from clinical experience that acupuncture also leads to longer term results than splinting. Further studies would have to be done to confirm what we see clinically.

This post has the following associations:

Issues/Symptoms: carpal tunnel syndrome (cts)

Patterns: kidney yin deficiency

Acupoints: ex huatuojiaji at c7, ex huatuojiaji at t1, gb 20, kd 6, lu 7, lu 11, pc 6, pc 7, si 3, th 5

Comments / Discussions:

comment by "ACUHEALTH" (acupuncturist)
on Dec 2022

What are some good points for carpal tunnel synddrome?

comment by "ChadD" (acupuncturist)
on Dec 2022

Generally speaking, you do not treat "carpal tunnel syndrome" within Chinese Medicine.  Instead you are focusing on the causal factors.  These will have a stronger influence on overall treatment design even in the cases of direct trauma (ie a known injury).

In the case of carpal tunnel you are considering levels of yin deficiency, blood deficiency, liver system issues, etc. - that is you are trying to find the root issues.  Then, part of the treatment may involve a more localized focus which is likely what you are asking about.  

Treating only locally will generally yield very poor results overall.  If these concepts are unfamiliar to you, I would suggest you read the following articles:

* treating the cause vs the symptoms

* treatment design basic principles

Now all that said, our page on carpal tunnel treatment has some empirical points listed that are worth considering in many cases and then our tam healing for carpal tunnel section has some of the areas we would likely focus on (with acupuncture, tuina and/or medical qigong/tongren asf appropriate).

For my patients a treatment design might look like the following:

1) What is their overall diagnosis in Chinese Medicine terms - for example here we will assume kidney yin deficiency

2) Choose points for their deeper diagnosis - so in the case of kd yin - perhaps LU 7 and KD 6 for example.

3) Then in the dsign of the localized treatment aspect, consider things such as localized trauma - one, do they actually have carpal tunnel? - maybe they have a cyst in their wrist, or arthritis, or anything else (or cts and another issue) - do they have issues that can translate into arm/hand issues such as other cervical/upper thoracic issues?  Basically take into account the whole person, not just the general wrist area.  Based on the above you might add in something like GB 20, huatuo of C7, T1, LI 11, then localized points such as PC 6 and/or PC 7, TH 5, SI 3, etc.  all of this would depend on the person.

From my experience improved results will come from not focusing around the wrist as much, but more around the neck and upper back, perhaps with cupping, etc. as appropriate.

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