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Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is first characterized as an uncomfortable feeling in the hand, often of tingling. It becomes more frequent or even continuous as the condition progresses. CTS sensations often occur more frequently at night and during sleep and may wake people from their sleep. The classic CTS comment is, “I wake in the middle of the night with my hands tingling and have to shake them to make them stop.”

As CTS progresses, the symptoms can progress to include the inability to manipulate objects, weakness, and wrist pain, which may migrate into the upper arm or even the shoulder region. Eventually tingling is replaced by numbness, as if one were wearing a rubber glove. Numbness and tingling affect the thumb, index, and middle fingers. As the disease progresses, lack of coordination turns into severe, debilitating weakness, especially in the motion of opposing the thumb to the rest of the hand.

CTS occurs primarily because of overuse and repetitive use injury, as with musicians, athletes, and those who work on a computer. Constriction in the wrist causes the muscles and tendons in the hands to be malnourished, and the blockage causes pain. Acupuncture and herbs combine to free the blockage, allowing blood and energy to again flow freely into the fingers and nourish the malnourished tissues, which means your hands can work and feel like normal again! Recent research has shown that acupuncture is as effective as steroid injection for CTS and carries fewer side effects (Yang, 2009).

CTS, as well as other progressive, repetitive-use injuries should be treated as soon as possible. Aside from the obvious discomforts and inconveniences of the malady, the sooner you seek help, the fewer treatments will be needed to get symptoms under control. That said, regardless of how long you have had symptoms, significant relief can occur with just one acupuncture treatment.

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