Today, our lives are increasingly intertwined with technology. From our phones to our computers and tables, we’re constantly using our wrists and hands to interact with the world through our devices.
Unfortunately, one of the most prevalent conditions arising from these modern demands is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Carpal tunnel pain can impact anyone, from office professionals and artists to avid gamers and musicians. But you don’t have to be typing all day to experience this pain – it can happen to anyone.
Sometimes, this wrist pain becomes so intense that many people look to carpal tunnel surgery to find relief and get back to using their devices and practicing their hobbies pain-free.
The good news is that you don’t always have to resort to invasive surgery to get the hand, wrist, and arm pain relief you need. Acupuncture for carpal tunnel pain is a powerful natural therapy that can significantly alleviate mild or severe wrist pain – let’s explore how.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a nerve-related disorder that affects mostly the hands and wrists. The carpal tunnel itself is a narrow passageway formed by the wrist bones and a tough band of connective tissue. Within this confined space runs the median nerve, which controls sensation and movement in the thumb and first three fingers.
When this nerve becomes compressed or irritated, it can lead to a range of uncomfortable and painful symptoms. What causes this compression? It is usually the result of excessive swelling and inflammation, which cause a decrease in the space within the carpal tunnel. This presses on the nerve, which not only causes pain but also limits its function.
Dr. Ko explains, “A carpal tunnel is caused by wrist overuse. If you use your hands a lot, your muscles will stretch. When a muscle is stretched, other tissues around are also stretched, so acupuncture will allow the stretched part to return to its original position. Overuse can cause inflammation. Acupuncture has an excellent effect on inflammation.”
The Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
CTS is a common issue, but it’s not the only type of hand or wrist pain. If you experience these symptoms, your pain could be due to CTS:
- Numbness and Tingling
Feeling “pins and needles” in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers is one of the tell-tale signs of CTS, as these are the areas innervated by the median nerve.
- Hand Weakness
Because the median nerve can’t function properly, weak hand muscles are a common complaint. Gripping objects or performing tasks that require fine motor skills (like buttoning a shirt) tend to become a challenge.
- Pain and Discomfort
CTS often causes an aching or sharp sensation that radiates from the wrist up the forearm. Sometimes it reaches as far as the shoulder. It’s common for this pain to get worse at night and even make it hard to fall asleep.
- Sensation Changes
Some people might feel a sense of swelling in their fingers, even if the fingers don’t look swollen from the outside.
- Difficulty Performing Fine Movements
Tasks like writing, typing, or holding small objects might become increasingly difficult and cause pain.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
While the exact cause can vary from person to person, there are a few key underlying factors that usually contribute to the development of CTS.
- Repetitive Hand Movements
Engaging in repetitive hand motions, especially without breaks, can strain the tendons and increase pressure on the median nerve. Typing and texting are common examples, but driving, using machinery, knitting, sewing, butchery, and other activities that rely on the hands and wrists can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Poor Ergonomics
Incorrect posture, inadequate wrist support, and improper hand positioning while working can lead to undue stress on the wrist, exacerbating the condition.
- Medical Conditions
Certain underlying medical conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Fluid Retention
Pregnant women or individuals with conditions that cause fluid retention may experience swelling in the carpal tunnel area, compressing the median nerve.
- Genetic Predisposition
Some people may have a genetically narrower carpal tunnel, making them more susceptible to nerve compression.
What is Carpal Tunnel Surgery?
CTS can be extremely painful and limiting. So, it’s no surprise that many people look into surgery to find relief. But, what exactly is carpal tunnel surgery, and is it necessary?
Carpal tunnel release surgery is a procedure that aims to alleviate the pressure on the median nerve by enlarging the carpal tunnel space. The procedure involves cutting the transverse carpal ligament, the band of tissue that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel. By doing so, the pressure on the median nerve is reduced, allowing it to function properly without being impinged.
Recovery and Side Effects of Carpal Tunnel Surgery
The initial recovery from carpal tunnel surgery usually takes a few weeks, with full recovery taking a few months. While many people do get relief after months of recovery and physical therapy, others experience side effects and delayed healing that make using their arms, wrists, and hands even harder than before. The most common post-surgery side effects are:
- Scar Tissue Formation: Scarring can occur at the incision site, potentially leading to sensitivity or adhesions.
- Infection: As with any surgery, there’s a risk of infection at the surgical site.
- Nerve Damage: In rare cases, nerves or blood vessels may be damaged during the procedure, leading to prolonged or new symptoms.
- Incomplete Healing: While most patients experience significant improvement in their symptoms, there’s a possibility that some residual symptoms may persist.
- Recurrence: In some cases, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms return over time, necessitating further treatment.
Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Pain: How Does it Help?
While surgery is the most common treatment conventional medicine offers for wrist pain relief, it is not the only one. As Dr. Ko explains, “In Western medicine, there is no treatment for carpal tunnel other than anti-inflammatory, painkillers, or surgery. There is no way to return the inflamed muscles to their original state. But acupuncture treatment helps the muscles return to their original state.”
Acupuncture has a long track record of helping people alleviate nerve pain, including the kind caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Ko states, “99% can be treated with Oriental medicine. It can be treated with acupuncture treatment without surgery.”
Acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome involves inserting fine needles into key points along the affected area, as well as corresponding energetic channels to stimulate healing. This comprehensive approach addresses both the local symptoms and the underlying imbalances that contribute to CTS.
Additionally, acupuncture treatments may include techniques such as cupping, moxibustion (the burning of a dried herb near the skin), and manual massage to further enhance the healing process.
Benefits of Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Pain
- Naturally relieves wrist and hand pain
One reason acupuncture is a powerful pain relief therapy is because it triggers the release of pain-killing endorphins.
- Improves blood flow through the arm
Acupuncture stimulates blood and qi flow through the acupuncture channels of the arm. This increased flow helps clear inflammation, heal the tissues, and reduce numbness and tingling.
- Reduces inflammation and enhances healing
Symptom relief is just part of the healing process. Acupuncture has a holistic effect on healing that also reduces the harmful inflammation and swelling that causes carpal tunnel pain. Studies also show that acupuncture supports nerve repair and can prevent wrist pain from getting worse.
- Safely reduces symptoms
Studies show that acupuncture offers a “safe and suitable” therapeutic method to alleviate CTS symptoms without the long recovery time or potential side effects of medications or surgery.
Acupuncture Vs. Carpal Tunnel Surgery: Which is Right for You?
The decision to opt for surgery or not is extremely personal and depends on your unique situation.
However, taking a natural, less invasive approach can help you get quicker relief and may even eliminate the need for surgery.
At 120 Acupuncture, Dr. Ko helps dozens of people yearly reduce their carpal tunnel pain with acupuncture. Typically, 2-3 visits per week for 5-6 months can help reduce pain and inflammation and may even prevent the need for surgery.
If you do opt for surgery, acupuncture in the weeks following can help speed up your recovery process or address side effects of the surgery (such as pain, residual symptoms, or tissue damage).
Are you tired of living with hand or wrist pain? Book your appointment today, or call us at 1-818-980-7979 to learn how Dr. Ko can help you overcome carpal tunnel syndrome and ease your pain naturally.