Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial Studying Changes in Clinical Symptoms and Electrodiagnostic Tests.
Altern Ther Health Med. 2019 Oct 1. Epub 2019 Oct 1. PMID: 31634868
Background: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most frequent entrapment neuropathy in humans. Nonsurgical management is still a matter of debate, and conservative treatments include splinting, local steroid injections, ultrasound, and oral steroids. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture therapy for symptomatic CTS may improve symptoms and aid nerve repair as well as improve sensory and motor functions. However, limited evidence based on comprehensive evaluation methods is available regarding the effects of those treatments.
Objective: The study intended to compare the short-term effects of acupuncture and conventional medical treatment on CTS patients' clinical symptoms and on the results of their electrodiagnostic tests.
Design: The research team designed a randomized controlled trial.
Setting: The study took place at the electrodiagnostic clinic of the School of Persian and Complementary Medicine at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (Mashhad, Iran).
Participants: Participants were 60 patients at the clinic with the clinical diagnosis of CTS.
Interventions: Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups. Patients in the control group received 100 mg of Celebrex as tablets, 2 times daily. Patients in the intervention group received 12 sessions of acupuncture, each for 30 min, for 4 wk. The needle insertion points were fixed for all sessions. In addition, wrist braces were provided to wear at night for 1 mo in both groups.
Outcome Measures: At baseline, postintervention at the end of week 4, and at a 3-mo follow-up at the end of week 16, participants' clinical symptoms-pain, numbness, tingling, weakness/clumsiness, and night awakenings-and the results of their electrodiagnostic studies were evaluated and compared.
Results: In total, 49 patients completed the study-24 in the control group and 25 in the intervention group. Compared with the control group, the intervention group's clinical symptoms-pain, numbness, tingling, and muscular weakness-based on the subscales of the global symptoms score questionnaire as well as the overall score on that questionnaire improved significantly (P<.05). Regarding the electrodiagnostic studies, only the distal motor latency showed a significantly greater decrease in the acupuncture group in comparison to controls (P = .001).
Conclusion: All clinical symptoms and the results of the electrodiagnostic tests improved significantly in the intervention group, and the improvements continued during the 3 mo postintervention. The therapeutic results of acupuncture were mostly similar to and in certain cases better than those of the conventional medical treatment. Therefore, acupuncture can be suggested as a safe and suitable therapeutic method in CTS.