Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
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Signs and Symptoms

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a disorder caused by compression at the wrist of the median nerve supplying the hand, causing numbness and tingling.

Carpal tunnel syndrom

The carpal tunnel is an area in the wrist where the bones and ligaments create a small passageway for the median nerve. The median nerve is responsible for both sensation and movement in the hand, in particular the thumb and first three fingers. When the median nerve is compressed, an individual's hand will feel as if it has "gone to sleep."

Women between the ages of 30 and 60 have the highest rates of carpal tunnel syndrome. Research has demonstrated that carpal tunnel syndrome is a very significant cause of missed work days due to pain. During 1998, an estimated three of every 10,000 workers lost time from work because of carpal tunnel syndrome. Half of these workers missed more than 10 days of work. The average lifetime cost of carpal tunnel syndrome, including medical bills and lost time from work, is estimated to be about $30,000 for each injured worker.

Common Causes

CTS is a common work-related condition. Things that help cause carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Repeated hand and wrist movements. They can cause the membranes surrounding the tendons to swell (tenosynovitis). This is especially true of actions when your hands are lower than your wrist.
  • Hand injury, such as a sprain, fracture or crush injury. This is because the swelling places pressure on the median nerve.
  • Conditions or illnesses that can cause or contribute to arm pain or swelling in the joints and soft tissues in the arm, or to reduced blood flow to the hands. These include obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes, lupus, and hypothyroidism.
  • Pregnancy, although the exact cause isn't known. Many cases resolve after the baby is born.
  • Family history. Research has shown there's a genetic link to CTS. This means you may have an increased risk of developing it if other members of your family have the condition or have had it in the past.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Surgery

Surgery might be considered when

  • Symptoms haven't improved after several weeks to months of nonsurgical treatment.
  • When talking on the phone, don't cradle the phone between head and shoulder. If you're on the phone often, switch to a headset or speakerphone.
  • There is a persistent loss of feeling or coordination in the fingers or hand.

Surgery choices & problems

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Surgery
  • Open carpal tunnel release surgery: Open surgery requires a longer recovery period and leaves a larger scar than endoscopic surgery. But there may be less chance of other complications.
  • Endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery: Recovery is quicker than with open surgery. The scars heal more quickly, are smaller, and tend to be less painful at 3 months after surgery. But there may be a slightly higher chance of needing another surgery later.
  • There is a persistent loss of feeling or coordination in the fingers or hand.

The Average cost of carpal tunnel surgery

The cost of carpal tunnel release surgery depends on various factors. The method used during surgery can have an effect on the cost, it is less expensive for the doctor to perform an open release versus an endoscopic release, but the open release requires more healing time.

Carpal tunnel surgery will not be the only cost that is endured for treatment of the condition. Post operative therapies may be necessary to strengthen and to teach the patient so appropriate ergonomics. The amount of time necessary will depend on how quickly the patient recovers. The average cost of the procedure, therapy and other related expenses can average around $30,000.

Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

According to the National Institutes of Health, acupuncture may help treat CTS. Studies suggest that acupuncture restores normal nerve function and can provide long-term relief of pain associated with CTS. 

There also has many systematic review, which demonstrated that the evidences for acupuncture as a symptomatic therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome is encouraging.

A fundamental of Chinese medicine is to not just treat the symptoms of a disorder, but to discover the cause and work on a treatment that targets the root of a problem. When working on your carpal tunnel, be sure you know what's causing your symptoms and try to develop your plan accordingly.

Acupuncturists treat people with CTS based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of qi located in various meridians. In the case of CTS, acupuncturists often target the liver, gallbladder, and kidney meridians.

At our clinic, we have more than 85% success rate in treatting CTS.