Carpal Tunnel and Acupuncture Orlando

Many people suffer form carpal tunnel, any type of career or job, daily activity can contribute to carpal tunnel. For these individuals, wrist pain is a constant pain and always in the forefront of their mind.

It has been studied that most people whose jobs cause or worsen wrist pain are not dealing with true carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact they are dealing with inflammation in trigger points caused by repetitive strain on the arm and hand muscles. These trigger points mimic the symptoms of carpal tunnel and can be completely eliminated with acupuncture.

True carpal tunnel means that the median nerve, which runs from the forearm and down the center from the wrist to the hand, is compressed. This compression causes pain, numbness and tingling, and sometimes weakness in the wrist, arm and hand. Structural malformations that compress the median nerve are not necessarily unusual, for example, a wrist fracture or inflammation from arthritis can compress the area but they are not as common as carpal-tunnel.

So why is an improper diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome so problematic? Initial medical treatment for carpal tunnel includes wrist splinting, NSAID drugs and cortisone shots. Not great, but no more harmful than conventional pain management for any other condition. But with carpal tunnel, when these measures don’t work, people turn to surgery relatively quickly because their condition often threatens their livelihood. Acupuncture could help many patients from unnecessarily going under the knife.

If the pain is mainly on the back of the wrist, there may be trigger points in one or several of the wrist extensor muscles, extensor carpi ulnaris, extensor carpi radialis brevis and extensor carpi radialis longus. Pain from extensor ulnaris trigger points tends to concentrate on the pinky side of the wrist while radialis brevis trigger points refer pain to the center of the wrist and slightly down the hand. Radialis longus trigger points, in addition to wrist pain, refer pain to the outside of the elbow.

For inside-of-the-wrist pain, an acupuncturist may suspect trigger points in the hand flexor muscles, the flexor carpi radials and flexor carpi ulnaris. The pronator teres, whose trigger points refer pain to the thumb side of the inner wrist up into the forearm, also can be involved.

Another forearm muscle, the palmaris longus, can harbor trigger points that cause pain and tingling in the inner wrist and up into the forearm. Accompanying hand pain can help differentiate this muscle. The palm is the primary referral area for trigger points in the palmaris longus, so in addition to wrist pain, there also would be pain in the center of the palm.

Trigger points directly in the hand, in a muscle called opponens pollicis, can cause lower wrist pain on the thumb side of the inside crease. Trigger points in this muscle are common in people whose hands and especially thumbs are very active. For example, the opponens pollicis is one of the first places acupuncturists look when people complain of BlackBerry thumb.

While most wrist pain comes from trigger points in the arm and hand muscles, the scalene muscles of the neck also can play a role. Trigger points in the scalene can cause back-of-the-wrist pain that extends into the fingers, as well as thumb-side pain on the inside of the wrist. This type of wrist pain is distinguishable by the accompanying upper arm, back or chest pain.

Trigger points in another upper-body muscle, the pectoralis minor, can cause referred pain to the wrist. Most pain from pectoralis-minor trigger points is at the front of the shoulder, but there is a common spillover pattern that extends down the inside of the arm and wrist, all the way into the ring and pinky fingers.

Considering the risk-benefit ratios of various wrist-pain treatments, acupuncture should be a first-line option rather than a last resort.

Acupuncture is safer than NSAIDs and cortisone shots, and it actually eliminates the pain source rather than temporarily masking symptoms. Compared with surgery, acupuncture is cheaper and less invasive, and has a higher probability of providing relief in people who don’t have a structural malformation. In relatively rare cases of true carpal tunnel syndrome, acupuncture can help manage post-operative trigger points that form in scar tissue and surrounding fascia.

Wrist pain burdens our system not only in the form of medical expenses but also lost wages. Before labeling it all carpal tunnel, let’s look to acupuncture for a new perspective on this prevalent problem.

If you think you suffer from carpal tunnel, call Four Seasons Acupuncture to schedule a complimentary consultation. See how acupuncture can help your health concerns.

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Maitland, Florida 32751

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