The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Acupuncture to treat carpal tunnel syndrome

    Researchers from the Kuang Tien General Hospital, in Taiwan believe it’s an option.

    And a reader agrees.

    First, the details.

    • 77 consecutive carpel tunnel syndrome patients confirmed by nerve conduction studies were enrolled in the study.
      • The nerve conduction study stimulates specific nerves and records their ability to send the impulse to the muscle. The study can show where there is a blockage of the nerve pathway.
    • The patients were randomly divided into 2 treatment groups.
      • The corticosteroid prednisolone 20 mg daily for 2 weeks followed by 2 weeks of prednisolone 10 mg daily.
      • Acupuncture administered in 8 sessions over 4 weeks.
    • A validated standard questionnaire as a subjective measurement was used to rate the 5 major symptoms (pain, numbness, paresthesia [tingling], weakness/clumsiness, and nocturnal awakening) on a scale from 0 (no symptoms) to 10 (very severe).
      • Patients completed standard questionnaires at the start and 2 and 4 weeks later.
      • The total score in each category was termed the global symptom score.

    And, the results.

    • Global symptom score showed significant improvement in both groups at weeks 2 and 4, with no statistical significance between groups.
    • Of the 5 main symptoms scores, only nocturnal awakening, showed a significant decrease in acupuncture vs steroids at week 4.
    • Patients with acupuncture had a significant decrease in distal motor latency compared with the steroid group at week 4.
      • Distal motor latency is the time between the stimulus and the onset of the muscle action
    • Acupuncture was well tolerated with minimal adverse effects.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “Short-term acupuncture treatment is as effective as short-term low-dose prednisolone for mild-to-moderate CTS.”

    Aside from this study there’s limited evidence supporting a role for acupuncture in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. A review in 2002 by researchers at Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre, Amsterdam, in The Netherlands concluded that “laser-acupuncture seem to be ineffective in providing short-term symptom relief.” And there was “conflicting evidence for the efficacy of… oral steroids.”

    The University of Maryland website has an overview of treatment options.

    5/8/10 11:48 JR

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