Objective: To compare the efficacy of conservative medical care with chiropractic care in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Design: Two-group, randomized, single-blind trial with 9 wk of treatment and a 1-month follow-up interview.
Setting: Wolfe-Harris Center for Clinical Studies at Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Patients: Ninety-one of 96 eligible subjects who reported symptoms that were confirmed by clinical exam and nerve conduction studies.
Interventions: Interventions included ibuprofen (800 mg 3 times a day for 1 wk, 800 mg twice a day for 1 wk and 800 mg as needed to a maximum daily dose of 2400 mg for 7 wk) and nocturnal wrist supports for medical treatment. Chiropractic treatment included manipulation of the soft tissues and bony joints of the upper extremities and spine (three treatments/week for 2 wk, two treatments/week for 3 wk and one treatment/week for 4 wk), ultrasound over the carpal tunnel and nocturnal wrist supports.
Main outcome measures: Outcome measures were pre- and postassessments of self-reported physical and mental distress, nerve conduction studies and vibrometry.
Results: There was significant improvement in perceived comfort and function, nerve conduction and finger sensation overall, but no significant differences between groups in the efficacy of either treatment.
Conclusions: Carpal tunnel syndrome associated with median nerve demyelination but not axonal degeneration may be treated with commonly used components of conservative medical or chiropractic care.