Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel

As the weather warms, so too does the desire to be more active and spend time outside with friends and family. If you’re someone who spends a lot of the day on the computer, or in a job that requires other repetitive motions in your wrists and hands, you might be walking into summer in pain and wary of any upcoming bocce ball tournaments.

In some cases, repetitive movements of the wrist and fingers, including typing, can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Characterized by pain in the wrist and hand, carpal tunnel syndrome means the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the wrist to the hand, has been compressed. This compression causes pain, numbness, tingling and occasional weakness of the wrist, arm and hand.

Conventional medicine treats true carpal tunnel syndrome with splints, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone shots. If none of these work, then surgery is recommended. Carpal tunnel surgery is the second most common type of surgery in the United States, following back surgery.

However, many people who develop wrist pain are misdiagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and sent to surgery when it isn’t needed. This can lead to further, more serious complications. It’s important to find out if  your discomfort is being caused by true carpal tunnel syndrome or just inflamed trigger points that need attention. When trigger points are “upset,” the pain can actually mimic the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) utilizes acupuncture, as well as many other modalities, to treat pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture can be extremely beneficial for those suffering from this condition.  A study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital demonstrated acupuncture and electroacupuncture not only decrease pain, but also remap the brain. Before and after MRIs showed the carpal tunnel-related damage to the somatosensory cortex was repaired in participants who received acupuncture. This means those subjects actually showed continued improvement over time and their ability to function improved, too. 

Acupuncture is a safer alternative to NSAIDs, cortisone shots and surgery. Studies confirm acupuncture decreases inflammation and restores function to tight muscles and tendons. Many studies show acupuncture eliminates the pain source rather than just masking the symptoms. Acupuncture is cheaper, less invasive and has a much higher probability of providing permanent relief. But in order to do this, the proper diagnosis must be made.

As mentioned before, angry trigger points can mimic carpal tunnel pain. Acupuncture can also be very beneficial for those experiencing trigger-point pain. Any one of the many muscles in the arms can become angry from repetitive motion. By stimulating painful trigger points with acupuncture needles, the muscles fire and release. This allows the muscle fibers to return to a relaxed state, relieving pain.

Wrist pain can be a serious burden for those who suffer from it, but before writing off the possibility of all summer lawn games this year, consider giving acupuncture a try.

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Healthy Eating from Early to Late Summer

Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is all about balance. In this ancient system, the key to health is to move through the world in such a way that our bodies can remain in homeostasis, in balance. This idea connects to sleep patterns, what we eat and ultimately the flow of Qi, or energy, throughout the body. For that reason, healthy eating in summertime, according to TCM, is all about using cooling foods to balance out how hot it is outside. In other words, we can find homeostasis from the inside out. continue reading »

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Extraordinary Vessels – Chong Mai

Most acupuncture points are located on the 12 primary channels that flow along the surface of the body. However, there are eight Extraordinary Vessels that flow more deeply in the body, and are perhaps even more powerful that the 12 primary channels. The Extraordinary Vessels regulate the 12 channels, and are deep lakes of energy, which can feed the 12 primary channels when they are depleted. continue reading »

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Extraordinary Vessels – Dai Mai

In addition to the 12 main acupuncture meridians that flow along the surface of the body, there are also deeper channels of energy in the body called the Extraordinary Vessels. You can understand the relationship between the primary acupuncture channels and the Extraordinary Vessels by thinking about what happens when it rains: first, small ditches become full – these are the collateral vessels that break off of the 12 main channels. Next, the reservoirs become full, which are the 12 primary channels. When they are full, they overflow into the Extraordinary Vessels, which are deep and vast lakes of energy within the body. continue reading »

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4 Lifestyle Tweaks to Thrive this Spring

In traditional Chinese medical theory, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to live in balance with the seasons. Balance, in this context, means mindfully crafting your diet and certain aspects of your lifestyle based on what season it is.

An easy way to think about this is with fruits and vegetables: we are lucky these days to have grocery stores stocked year round with fruits and vegetables from every corner of the globe at all times of year. That makes it possible to enjoy asparagus into the winter months in northern climates where asparagus would never naturally grow at that time of year if at all. Chinese medical thought prescribes realigning our diets with what would be available to us in the region where we live and at each time of year. continue reading »

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