Research: Acupuncture Better than Corticosteroids for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Posted in: Acupuncture, Arm & Hand Pain, Research | 1

The May 2009 issue of The Clinical Journal of Pain included the results of a randomized controlled trial comparing the use of acupuncture vs corticosteroids for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. The study showed positive results favouring acupuncture.

The study followed 77 subjects that were either given acupuncture (8 treatments over 4 weeks) or the corticosteroid prednisone, taken orally, daily for 4 weeks.  Acupuncture proved to have better results for controlling pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.  Acupuncture had better results for night time awakening and motor function.

Acupuncture also has less side effects and is safer than corticosteroids.  The side effects of a typical medical acupuncture treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome are:

  • minor bruising at the needle site that lasts 1 day after treatment
  • the sensation of a slight “prick” with the insertion of the needle, but not during the treatment

Here is a list of the side effects of the corticosteroid prednisone:

  • increased appetite
  • indigestion
  • nervousness or restlessness
  • darkening or lightening of skin color
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • flushing of face or cheeks
  • hiccups
  • increased sweating
  • sensation of spinning
  • Decreased or blurred vision
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
  • confusion
  • excitement
  • false sense of well-being
  • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there)
  • mental depression
  • mistaken feelings of self-importance or being mistreated
  • mood swings (sudden and wide)
  • restlessness
  • skin rash or hives
  • abdominal or stomach pain or burning (continuing)
  • acne
  • bloody or black, tarry stools
  • changes in vision
  • eye pain
  • filling or rounding out of the face
  • headache
  • irregular heartbeat
  • menstrual problems
  • muscle cramps or pain
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea
  • pain in arms, back, hips, legs, ribs, or shoulders
  • reddish purple lines on arms, face, groin, legs, or trunk
  • redness of eyes
  • sensitivity of eyes to light
  • stunting of growth (in children)
  • swelling of feet or lower legs
  • tearing of eyes
  • thin, shiny skin
  • trouble in sleeping
  • unusual bruising
  • unusual increase in hair growth
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • weight gain (rapid)
  • wounds that will not heal