Chiropractor Chandler AZ

Acupuncture and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is caused by median nerve entrapment. The carpal tunnel is a small channel that contains ligaments at the end of the wrist. The median nerve enters the carpal tunnel and is responsible for sensation of the thumb, second, and third fingers on the palm of the hand. Various symptoms can result from compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel, including pain, burning, tingling, and numbness in the palm of the hand that sometimes extends into the elbow.

hand muscles anterior carpal tunnel labeled

There are several ways in which compression of the median nerve is caused. Common conditions that can lead to CTS include arthritis, pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, and hypothyroidism. There is a broad range of treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome. The treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome is based on the cause and severity of symptoms. For example: the workplace desk and chair may need to be updated to help keep the wrist in a more neutral position. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to help reduce inflammation and decrease pain. However, side effects for the drugs include gastrointestinal discomfort and possible stomach ulcers. Occasionally, those with more severe symptoms choose to undergo surgery. This involves tearing of the carpal tunnel to relieve pressure on the median nerve.

Complications of CTS include weakness and wasting of the muscles at the palm extending towards the thumb. This can lead to decreased movement of the index and middle fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome is similar but different from ulnar nerve entrapments, which cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the little and ring finger.

acupuncture wrist chandler

Acupuncture is a noninvasive way to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Some other noninvasive ways to treat carpal tunnel are Graston Technique, Massage, or Cold Laser.

A recent study by Maeda, Kettner, et al., found that acupuncture has a positive effect on the brain. Acupuncture needles were inserted into specific local points for people with and without carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist and brain activity was tracked simultaneously. The study found that the areas of the brain that control sensation had increased activity with acupuncture.

Several studies are shown below for additional information on carpal tunnel syndrome and acupuncture.

Pain is the main issue for people with arthritis. Acupuncture is highly effective of pain management. It produces endorphins which inhibit the sensation of pain. It also produces serotonin, which blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Some other noninvasive ways to treat the pain associated with arthritis are cold laser therapy, Chiropractic, Massage, or Physical Therapy.

The video below describes how acupuncture is performed and commonly asked questions. Many people seek acupuncture for their forearm muscle and elbow joint pain, it is also very effective when combined with conservative therapy and medical treatments.

Learn more about Acupuncture in our Chandler AZ Clinic. Chiropractic, physical therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture can be used alone or combined to enhance many types of treatments and injuries. Many people with chronic pain find significant relief when combining these treatments.

Low level lasers are excellent treatments for decreasing pain and inflammation around the median nerve. Class IV Cold Lasers produce a specific frequency and wavelength of energy that decrease inflammatory molecules. Many people with carpal tunnel syndrome show positive responses when low level lasers are added to their treatment plan. Learn more about cold laser treatment and nerve repair.


Alpha Chiropractic and Physical Therapy provides treatment for many patients in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix, and Maricopa. Most patients have never seen a clinic that combines treatments from different providers into improving your pain. Chiropractic Adjustments are enhanced with physical therapy exercises and stretches on the elbow, wrist, shoulder, and neck. Many people with carpal tunnel syndrome have significant amounts of tendinopathy or tendinitis around the median nerve leading to compression and nerve entrapment.

Many patients are amazed how their muscle pain and “knots in their forearm muscles” are quickly improved with Graston Technique treatments combined with massage. Graston Technique helps break up scar tissue and enhance tendinopathy healing. Massage therapy helps decrease muscle spasms in the neck, shoulder, and arm muscles, which often contribute to median nerve entrapments.

Therapy and treatments for many types of conditions can be improved with a combination of acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy. Learn more about our unique Chandler Chiropractic Clinic.

Acupuncture Evoked Response in Contralateral Somatosensory Cortex Reflects Peripheral Nerve Pathology of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Yumi Maeda, PhD,Norman Kettner, DC, Jeungchan Lee, Jieun Kim, PhD, Stephen Cina, Cristina Malatesta, MD, Jessica Gerber, Claire McManus, Jaehyun Im, Alexandra Libby, Pia Mezzacappa, Leslie R. Morse, DO, Kyungmo Park, PhD, Joseph Audette, MD, and Vitaly Napadow, PhD


The aim of this study was to compare brain responses to acupuncture at local versus distal points in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome who have chronic pain, versus healthy controls and correlate the responses with median nerve function.


Brain response to electroacupuncture at 2Hz was evaluated with event-related functional MRI in patients with CTS and healthy individuals without carpal tunnel. Electroacupuncture was applied at acupoints local (PC 7 to TW 5) and distal (SP 6 to LV 4) to the CTS lesions.


Brain response in both groups and acupoints included activation of the bilateral secondary somatosensory cortex and insula, and the contralesional primary somatosensory cortex . Deactivation was noticed in ipsilesional primary somatosensory cortex. A significant difference between local and distal acupoints was found in primary somatosensory cortex for the healthy individuals, but not CTS. Furthermore, primary somatosensory cortex activation by EA at local acupoints was negatively correlated with median nerve peak sensory latency in HC, but was positively correlated in CTS. No correlation was found for EA at distal acupoints for either group.


Brain response to EA differs between CTS and healthy individuals and is most effective when utilizing local acupoint stimulation with median nerve function, reflecting the peripheral nerve pathophysiology of CTS

A study by Khosrawi, Moghtaderi, et al., found that acupuncture is highly effective in treating mild to severe forms of carpal tunnel syndrome. The study compared several groups of patients with varying degrees of carpal tunnel pain and treated some with acupuncture and wrist splinting and another group with vitamin B1, B6, wrist splinting, and sham acupuncture (acupuncture performed to random points that would not benefit carpal tunnel symptoms). The group with acupuncture and wrist splints had significantly better improvement of their carpal tunnel symptoms.

Acupuncture in treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial study

Saeid Khosrawi, Alireza Moghtaderi, and Shila Haghighat


The aim of this study was to assess the short-term effects of acupuncture in treatment of mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome.


In a randomized controlled trial study, participants were randomly assigned to either control group which night splinting, vitamin B1, B6 and sham acupuncture for four weeks were administered, or intervention group that underwent acupuncture in 8 sessions over 4 weeks and night splinting. The clinical symptoms using global symptom score (GSS) and electrophysiological parameters were assessed at baseline and four weeks after the intervention.


Our results showed that patients who received acupuncture had significantly better improvement in clinical symptoms of CTS. Acupuncture treatment had better efficacy when compared to sham acupuncture combined with night splinting in symptom assessment. Of the 72 patients who met the criteria of the study, 64 participated and completed the 4 week trial and were evaluated for outcomes.


Findings from the study show that acupuncture can improve the overall symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and can be adapted into treatment plans for these patients.