Repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) are responsible for the highest number of days lost in work related injuries. Carpal tunnel injuries account for over two-million visits to physician’s offices; it is estimated that there are about four hundred and sixty five thousand carpal tunnel release operations each year.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the forearm is entrapped from swelling and irritation of the nerves and tendons in the carpal tunnel. The median nerve is responsible for sensations and impulses to small muscles in the hand. Symptoms associated with CTS may include: burning, tingling, weakness, or numbness in the hand, wrist and arm. Nerve damage, deterioration of the muscles and decreased grip strength may also occur, if not treated properly
Findings from a recent research study suggest that acupuncture therapy can be very effective in the treatment of CTS. A randomized, controlled study in the Clinical Journal of Pain (May, 2009) investigated the efficacy of acupuncture. Seventy-seven patients were randomly divided into two groups. One group received acupuncture therapy (eight acupuncture treatments in four weeks), and the other group received oral doses of prednisone for four weeks. Acupuncture was found to be as effective as prednisone for pain, numbness, weakness and tingling. Acupuncture treatment was superior in the reduction of night time awakening and motor function.