Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel

Type, type, type — Many professions and day-to-day activities can lead to carpal tunnel. This can be painful. Could acupuncture be helpful?

In this article, we will be exploring how acupuncture can work for carpal tunnel, acupuncture points that are often used, the number of treatment sessions that are needed and what to expect it to cost.

Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel

Acupuncture for carpal tunnel can be a very effective treatment option. In fact, there have been quite a few studies conducted around understanding how acupuncture and carpal tunnel. 

What Does Acupuncture do for Carpal Tunnel?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is essentially a very common condition that impacts the median nerve at the wrist. Acupuncture can be used with other therapies to help manage the symptoms of the condition. However, acupuncture according to this study does far more than just help a person manage its symptoms. Acupuncture was found to help rewire the primary somatosensory cortex in the brain while also reducing the symptoms of carpal tunnel.

4 Ways the Primary Somatosensory Cortex Helps

Each part of the human brain is responsible for helping a person function and be in the world. The primary somatosensory cortex helps you do the following four things:

  1. Touch: Feel and interpret what it is you feel.

  2. Proprioception: Move and be aware of your surroundings.

  3. Pain: Experience pain and interpret as pain so no further pain comes to you.

  4. Temperature: Be able to decipher what is hot and cold.

Acupuncture Rewires the Primary Somatosensory Cortex for Carpal Tunnel

The study found that that acupuncture helps rewire the primary somatosensory cortex. It documented the rewriting through two ways:

  1. Nerve conduction studies: Nerve tests were done to assess the median nerve sensory latency. It helped measure the impact of the acupuncture.

  2. Brain imaging data: Brain imaging data was used and acquired both before treatment and following acupuncture treatment.

This study consisted of the following number of sessions and frequency:

  • Number of sessions: 16

  • Frequency of treatment: twice a week

Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, there is a high likelihood that you may experience symptoms of carpal tunnel. What are some unique steps I should take in this case? To find out read: Acupuncture Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

Acupuncture Points for Carpal Tunnel

Where to insert acupuncture needles for carpal tunnel? This question is often asked. Should you be inserting your own needles? No. But when you go to your acupuncturist, knowing the location of acupuncture points that are often used for carpal tunnel can help you know what to expect and also can be a conversation starter with your acupuncturist. So which acupuncture points are used for carpal tunnel?

According to this one study, there are two acupuncture points that can be helpful with carpal tunnel

  1. PC-7 [Daling]

  2. PC-6 [Neiguan]

However, this other study many different acupuncture points were identified as being used for carpal tunnel including:

  • PC 6

  • PC 7

  • PC 8

  • HT 7

  • HT 8

  • LU 8

  • LU 9

  • LU 10

  • TH 2

  • TH 3

  • TH 4

  • N-UE-5

Ear Points for Carpal Tunnel

Here are three ear points that can be used for carpal tunnel.

  • Wrist

  • Shenmen

  • Thalamus

Why so Many Different Points for Carpal Tunnel?

As we just saw, two different studies not only used different acupuncture points but also, in essence, had vastly different suggestions for what points to use when treating carpal tunnel. Why? Because although there are recommendations for different points and what each point can be used for — acupuncture treatment is a very personalized treatment process. Acupuncture points and treatments are chosen after a detailed interview process, knowledge of each point, and the signals your particular body is sending out in relation to the understanding and teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM.

How Long does it Take to Feel Results From Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel?

When will you start to see results from acupuncture for carpal tunnel? Just as acupuncture points for carpal tunnel can differ from person to person, so does the number of sessions you will need to go to before you start to experience progress and minimization of your symptoms.

Some people experience improvement after their first treatment, others take a few treatments. Often times when seeking acupuncture treatment for carpal tunnel, — it is suggested that the minimum number of treatments is: 6 sessions.

But just because that is the number of sessions that is suggested, how many sessions are required?

How Many Acupuncture Treatments are Needed for Carpal Tunnel?

Okay, one study said that six sessions is probably the minimum that you utilize when you use acupuncture for carpal tunnel. But how long, should each session be? To discover the answer to this, we will gain a second perspective on the number of acupuncture treatments for carpal tunnel.

This second study lasted from June 2010 and February 2011. It compared the impact of acupuncture to vitamins B1 and B6 and sham acupuncture.

For the acupuncture group, they still used a splint every night. They also had the following number of sessions with different frequency and times:


Number of sessions: 8 sessions

Length of Treatment: 4 weeks

Frequency of treatments: twice a week

Time for each session: 60 minutes

What did this study conclude? It concluded that when the acupuncture group was compared to the sham acupuncture, as well as the vitamin only treatment group — acupuncture group experienced the greatest level of improvement.

So in general, you may need to have 6-8 sessions twice a week if you are having hour-long sessions. If you are choosing sessions that are 30-45 minutes long, you may find that going to 12-16 sessions would be useful.

What will it Cost Me?

So, yes, acupuncture can work for and be beneficial for Carpal tunnel. However, how much can you expect the treatments to cost you? The answer to this question depends on the following factors:

  • Location

  • Cost per session

  • Discounts

  • Packages

  • Carpal tunnel intensity

The cost per an acupuncture session ranges from $75-$160. Depending on the frequency of treatment you find best meets your needs, you may find yourself spending $280 to $1200 for weekly or bi-weekly acupuncture treatment. For more information, read: How Much Does Acupuncture Cost?

If you would like information on low-cost acupuncture, a Community Acupuncture Clinic may be a great choice for you. Want to know more? Read: What is Community Acupuncture Like?

Wait, needles and acupuncture not quite that path you want to use? Let’s look at three other options:

  1. Hypnotherapy

  2. Chiropractic care

  3. Yoga

The good news? If you decide that one of these other treatments may better for you, DaoCloud also has practitioners in the three alternative treatment options as well.

Additional Information

Want more information on acupuncture? Check out these other resources:

Find an Acupuncturist near you

There are hundreds of talented Acupuncturists on DaoCloud:

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References:

How Do You Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Your Practice? (2010). Medical Acupuncture, 22(3), 161-166. doi:10.1089/acu.2010.2019. Retrieved February 25, 2019, from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/acu.2010.2019

How the Body and Brain Achieve Carpal Tunnel Pain Relief via Acupuncture. (2018, July 25). Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/carpal

Khosrawi, S., Moghtaderi, A., & Haghighat, S. (2012). Acupuncture in treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial study. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 17(1), 1-7. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3523426/

Maeda, Y., Kim, H., Kettner, N., Kim, J., Cina, S., Malatesta, C., . . . Napadow, V. (2017, April 01). Rewiring the primary somatosensory cortex in carpal tunnel syndrome with acupuncture. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28334999

Zyluk, A. (2013, October 07). Carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy: A review. Retrieved February 25, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24104526