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Study Finds Contralateral Needle Technique More Effective for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

A recent study from May 2017 highlighted the positive effects of acupuncture treatments to address the symptoms of mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).  The study, titled "Clinical research on mild and moderate carpal tunnel syndrome treated with contralateral needle technique at distal acupoints and acupuncture at local acupoints," appeared in the medical journal Zhongguo Zhen Jiu.

Researchers wanted to observe if there was a difference in results between needling local acupoints versus needling local acupoints along with contralateral and distal points.

Local acupoints reside close to the source of the problem. For symptoms of CTS, the acupoints are located between the fingers and the elbow. Distal acupoints are located far away from the problem area. For this study, the distal points used were on the feet. Contralateral, as a medical term, refers to the opposite side of the body from where the problem or injury lies.

Thirty patients underwent local needle techniques plus the distal ones. Another batch of thirty patients received acupuncture only at the local points. Participants had a 30 minute treatment every day for ten days in a row. In that time patients were evaluated for therapeutic benefits with median nerve electrophysiology, Levine's CTS evaluation form, and a patient-rated wrist evaluation questionnaire. These evaluations were done before and at the conclusion of their treatments.

At the conclusion of the trial researchers observed a noteworthy improvement of symptoms for both groups of patients. These areas included nerve sensory conduction velocity and median nerve amplitude rates. The severity of symptoms decreased and functionality improved again for both groups. However, the overall rate of effectiveness peaked at 90% for the group receiving both local and distal acupuncture. The group receiving only local acupuncture showed a 70% rate of effectiveness.

Source: Chen, L. (2017). Clinical research on mild and moderate carpal tunnel syndrome treated with contralateral needling technique at distal acupoints and acupuncture at local acupoints. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu, (May), 479-482. doi:10.13703/j.0255-2930.2017.05.007 


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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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