Acupuncture Eases Pain in Carpal Tunnel

Acupuncture Eases Pain in Carpal Tunnel

27 March 2017 by Caitlin Armit

Carpal Tunnel

In February 2017, the Acupuncture Evidence Project found that the research evidence to support using acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome was unclear. New research has identified the possible reasons behind why acupuncture may be useful for wrist pain involved with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A study published in the March 2017 Brain journal randomly allocated 80 people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome into one of three groups.

Group 1) acupuncture at the wrist and ankle

Group 2) acupuncture at the wrist only

Group 3) sham acupuncture (fake needles designed to simulate real acupuncture treatment) near the affected wrist.

Functional MRI’s were used to measure nerve conduction before and after treatments. Though all three groups experienced pain relief, the groups receiving true acupuncture showed measurable physiological improvements in the pain areas of the brain and nerves whilst the sham acupuncture group did not. The improvements for groups 1 and 2 predicted greater pain relief for the three months following the tests.

Participants received 16 sessions over an 8 week period, highlighting the importance of treatment frequency over treatment duration in achieving positive outcomes.

Vitaly Napadow, Harvard researcher and senior author of this study has said “What’s really interesting here is that we’re evaluating acupuncture using objective outcomes.” Sham acupuncture relieved pain temporarily but true acupuncture had objective and enduring physiological effects. Napadow also stated “Acupuncture is a safe, low-risk, low side-effect intervention. It’s perfect for a first-line approach, and it’s something patients should consider before trying more invasive procedures like surgery.”

“Sham acupuncture may ‘work’ by modulating known placebo circuitry in the brain. In contrast, real acupuncture may improve CTS symptoms by rewiring the primary somatosensory cortex, in addition to modulating local blood flow to the peripheral nerve in the wrist. In other words, both peripheral and central neurophysiological changes in CTS may be halted or even reversed by electro-acupuncture interventions that provide more prolonged and regulated input to the brain — something that future, longer-term neuroimaging studies should explore.”

Read more…

Rewiring the primary somatosensory cortex in carpal tunnel syndrome with acupuncture

In an earlier study (2015), Efficacies of Acupuncture and Anti-inflammatory Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, fifty patients with mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome were randomly divided into two groups. Both received wrist splints at night as standard treatment for one month. One group received acupuncture biweekly for four weeks and the control group received 400mg of ibuprofen three times a day for 10 days. Findings were assessed at baseline and one month after treatment. Significant improvements were found in both groups however acupuncture was superior to ibuprofen on the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and the Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire for Functional Status and Symptom Severity (BCTQ FUNCT and SYMPT) but not on the Distal Motor Latency (DML).

Categories: Brisbane Acupuncture Blog | Pain Relief Brisbane

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