Clinical effectiveness of acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome

Am J Chin Med. 2014;42(2):303-14. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X14500207.


Acupuncture and electroacupuncture treatments of symptomatic carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) may improve symptoms and aid nerve repair as well as improve sensory and motor functions. However, limited evidence is available regarding the effects of these treatments based on comprehensive evaluation methods. This research completed the treatment and evaluation of 26 patients with confirmed CTS. Participants were divided into two treatment groups based on a modified neurophysiological grading scale. Of the total number of participants, 15 received acupuncture and 11 received electroacupuncture on both upper limbs. Acupoints were PC-7 (Daling) and PC-6 (Neiguan) along the pericardial meridian compatible with the median nerve tract. The treatment program consisted of 24 sessions of 15 min duration over 6 weeks. After electroacupuncture treatments, symptom severity was evaluated using the short clinical questionnaire by Lo and Chiang, which indicated improvements in the respective symptom severity score. After the acupuncture treatment, grip strength in the major symptomatic side in CTS patients could be significantly increased. Electrophysiology evaluation likewise indicated a significant increase in the distal median motor amplitude of the palm-wrist segment. In addition, Tinel's sign significantly decreased in the major symptomatic side. Our findings indicated that electroacupuncture could improve symptomatology, while acupuncture could exert positive therapeutic effects for CTS patients, as evidenced by improved symptomatology, grip strength, electrophysiological function, and physical provocation sign.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Adult
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Electrodiagnosis / methods
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Median Nerve / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome