I have several friends who get acupuncture treatment every week for various aches and pains. I have carpal tunnel syndrome that seems to come and go depending on what I'm doing at work. Can acupuncture help with this? And what kind of side effects can occur?
Acupuncture has been shown to be safe and effective for short-term (two to four weeks) treatment of mild-to-moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. Long-term studies are needed to confirm the benefit of acupuncture for this same problem.
Symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and night pain improve within the first two weeks of treatment. In one study, the biggest difference was in night pain awakening the patient. Patients having acupuncture seemed to have the most improvement in this area with fewer night-time awakenings of pain. Motor function improves with acupuncture as well. This means that the previously compromised nerve is better able to send messages from the affected median nerve to the muscles.
There can be a few side effects of acupuncture. Needles used in acupuncture can cause skin tenderness, bleeding, and numbness and leave bruising of the skin. Treatment take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Most patients report this as a very pleasant, relaxing, and calming time.
Chun-Pai Yang, MD, et al. Acupuncture in Patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In The Clinical Journal of Pain. May 2009. Vol. 25. No. 4. Pp. 327-333.
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