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Acupuncture Relieves Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) are the most common job-related injuries and are responsible for the highest number of days lost among all work related injuries. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a well-known common injury that occurs due to repetitive stress, such as computer use. CTS is also the most frequent surgery of the hand and wrist.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist made up of ligaments and bones. The median nerve and the tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the forearm pass through this tightly spaced tunnel. Carpal tunnel occurs when swelling or irritation of the tendons begin to put pressure on the median nerve causing pain in the palm side of the wrist and pain and tingling in the fingers. Repetitive movements can cause the tendons and ligaments to inflame.

Symptoms start gradually, with burning, tingling or numbness in the fingers and palm. The fingers most involved are the index, middle and ring. Pain can travel and effect the arm and shoulder. As symptoms worsen, people feel pain and weakness in the hand and wrist. If CTS is not treated, it can cause irreversible nerve damage and permanent deterioration of muscle tissue.

How can Acupuncture help?

From a TCM perspective, a repetitive stress injury is seen as a disruption in the flow of Qi and blood. Acupuncture points are chosen (some local and some distal) which reduce swelling, inflammation and pain by improving blood flow to the area. Patients can observe relief in pain, numbness and tingling in just a few treatments. In fact, in a randomize controlled study published in the May 2009 issue of the Clinical Journal of Pain, acupuncture was found to be as effective as the corticosteroid, prednisone, for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.