Context: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common complication of repetitive activities and causes significant morbidity.
Objective: To determine the effectiveness of a yoga-based regimen for relieving symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Design: Randomized, single-blind, controlled trial.
Setting: A geriatric center and an industrial site in 1994-1995.
Patients: Forty-two employed or retired individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome (median age, 52 years; range, 24-77 years).
Intervention: Subjects assigned to the yoga group received a yoga-based intervention consisting of 11 yoga postures designed for strengthening, stretching, and balancing each joint in the upper body along with relaxation given twice weekly for 8 weeks. Patients in the control group were offered a wrist splint to supplement their current treatment.
Main outcome measures: Changes from baseline to 8 weeks in grip strength, pain intensity, sleep disturbance, Phalen sign, and Tinel sign, and in median nerve motor and sensory conduction time.
Results: Subjects in the yoga groups had significant improvement in grip strength (increased from 162 to 187 mm Hg; P = .009) and pain reduction (decreased from 5.0 to 2.9 mm; P = .02), but changes in grip strength and pain were not significant for control subjects. The yoga group had significantly more improvement in Phalen sign (12 improved vs 2 in control group; P = .008), but no significant differences were found in sleep disturbance, Tinel sign, and median nerve motor and sensory conduction time.
Conclusion: In this preliminary study, a yoga-based regimen was more effective than wrist splinting or no treatment in relieving some symptoms and signs of carpal tunnel syndrome.