Can Acupuncture Work to Help Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal Tunnel is generally described as pain, numbness, tingling and/or electrical sensations within the median nerve distribution, which is typically the thumb and the first two or three fingers. Common symptoms experienced by those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome is decreased mobility in the hands and/or wrist area.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Research Studies
Studies have recently been conducted to show the efficacy of acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome, dividing participants into two groups- one group received ‘true’ acupuncture, while the second group received ‘sham’ acupuncture as a control. Both groups underwent 16 sessions over a time period of 8 weeks. Those that received true acupuncture to help with carpal tunnel showed improvements in the median nerve, directly in correlation with the reduction of fractional anisotropy. This means that the patients’ MRI scans measured improvements in areas of the brain that show positive outcomes for carpal tunnel patients.
Those given the ‘fake’ acupuncture did not produce the positive results in their brain that are correlated with median nerve improvements, using their MRI scans as measurement. The only effect those who were given the ‘fake’ acupuncture was a short-term placebo effect, which did not last long and did not show any real results in their brain or central nervous system.
This study shows that acupuncture truly does have a positive impact on those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome- not just for short term relief, but in helping to fix the problem on a long-term basis.
How Acupuncture Helps to Relieve Carpal Tunnel
Now that you know that it is proven that acupuncture truly can help with carpal tunnel, let’s explore HOW acupuncture does this.
Firstly, acupuncture needles placed in the specific points in your wrist and arm trigger your nervous system to send out endorphins and enkephalins, your body’s natural pain killers. The needles also trigger your nervous system to send more blood to the area to increase circulation and oxygen to the area to help heal the damaged area. In a sense, a message is sent to “remap” the brain so that it modifies the way that it receives pain signals from the wrist.
Acupuncture also increases the release of adenosine, which has antinociceptive properties- this is the process of blocking the detection of painful stimulus. Lastly, acupuncture also is well known to act on the areas of the brain that are known to reduce stress and sensitivity to pain overall, making it a great option for longer term relief.