Acupuncture For Carpal Tunnel: How Does it Work?


Maybe you spend your evenings typing short stories, or maybe you like to sew in your spare time. If you rely on your hands day in and day out, you’re at a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This painful nerve condition occurs when the ligaments surrounding the median nerve, which runs through the arm into the hand, become inflamed. Excessive swelling narrows the tunnel through which the median nerve travels, leading to pain, numbness, weakness, and a persistent pins and needles feeling. If you’re looking for alternative treatments, you may have heard about using acupuncture for carpal tunnel. But how does it work?

Acupuncture helps control inflammation in patients with mild carpal tunnel, reducing their symptoms without the need for surgery. Acupuncture can also be used as a supportive measure after carpal tunnel surgery to support healthy nerve function. 

How can acupuncture alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome?

Acupuncture is an excellent alternative therapy for mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. If your symptoms aren’t too severe, and if they tend to come and go, then acupuncture can be incredibly helpful for managing your condition. Inserting needles into key acupuncture points enhances blood flow to the injury site. The benefits of this are twofold. 

For starters, it helps the body push pro-inflammatory byproducts away from the injured tissues, reducing pain and swelling. Secondly, it stimulates the body’s natural healing response. Acupuncture utilizes hair-thin needles. When these needles penetrate the skin, they create microscopic traumas that signal the body, letting it know it needs to direct its energy to the surrounding tissues. 

When it comes to treating mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome, controlling inflammation is critical. Because acupuncture is so good at reducing inflammation, it can be an invaluable tool in your treatment program. Acupuncture’s ability to simultaneously kickstart healing can even reverse carpal tunnel syndrome, providing you with long-term relief from your symptoms. 

In a study, acupuncture was found to be just as effective as low-dose prednisone therapy for treating mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. In many cases, acupuncture alone is enough to stop carpal tunnel pain and improve healthy hand function. 

Can acupuncture speed up recovery time following carpal tunnel surgery?

When it comes to severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, acupuncture alone may not be enough to resolve your symptoms. In some cases, surgery is the best course of action. If you’re planning on getting surgery for your carpal tunnel syndrome, or if you’ve already had surgery, acupuncture can help you get on the fast track to recovery. 

Acupuncture is a non-invasive treatment with very few risks and side effects. It’s gentle enough to be used after surgery and can support you on your path to healing. Acupuncture helps alleviate swelling and inflammation post-op, which makes physical therapy much easier. Using acupuncture as a part of your surgery recovery plan can improve nerve function and range of motion much quicker. 

One of the biggest concerns that patients have following carpal tunnel surgery is that, eventually, their symptoms will come back. Even though carpal tunnel surgery has a high success rate, there’s always the possibility that the condition can return. This is especially true if measures aren’t taken to support the hands after surgery. 

Because acupuncture is effective enough to resolve mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, getting acupuncture treatments post-op can prevent your symptoms from returning. Whether you’ve had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in the past few weeks, or even in the past few years, it’s never too late to start acupuncture treatments to keep the pain, weakness, and numbness of carpal tunnel at bay.

What can you expect during your acupuncture session?

The answer to this question depends on which type of acupuncture your acupuncturist decides you need. Traditional acupuncture is often the best choice, but depending on which factors have contributed to your carpal tunnel syndrome, orthopedic acupuncture, and electrostimulation may be better choices. A strength test may be needed to assess which style of treatment will work best for you. 

Once we’ve determined which treatment strategies will work best for you, your session will begin. We’ll find the best acupuncture points to place needles. You may feel a sense of pressure as the needles are inserted, but once in place, you’ll hardly notice them. As you relax for a period of 10 to 40 minutes or so, you’ll likely enjoy a growing sense of calm as the needles work their magic. 

At the end of your session, the needles will be removed, and you’ll be good to go. We may give you a series of exercises to keep your muscles limber after the session. It’s imperative that you follow your acupuncturist’s advice to maximize the effects of the treatment. Proper movement following your session will further reduce swelling and inflammation. It will also prevent symptoms from flaring up in the future. 

For many carpal tunnel patients, bi-weekly sessions for a period of 4 to 6 weeks are enough to manage flare-ups. Regular acupuncture sessions encourage brain re-mapping, changing the way it responds to nerve pain. So even though a single acupuncture session can provide you with relief, multiple sessions are preferred because they offer patients the most lasting benefits

Booking your first appointment

At Lycoming Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture, we’ve treated many clients with varying degrees of carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s amazing how much of a difference a few needles can make for people living with such a debilitating condition. 

If you’re ready to give acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome a try, contact our clinic today. We’ll help you book an appointment so you can get started. From your first visit, we will work with you to get to the root of your symptoms and to figure out which treatment strategy will be the most effective for you. 
From carpal tunnel syndrome to tendonitis to neuropathy, we’ve helped dozens of people regain the use of their hands so they can continue enjoying their favorite hobbies totally pain-free. We’re ready to help you, too, with the amazing healing powers of acupuncture.

Ready to get started?