How the Body and Brain Achieve Carpal Tunnel Pain Relief via Acupuncture

New research describes how acupuncture may achieve local pain-relieving effects in people with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) while also showing effects of the technique in the brain’s pain centers. The study, funded in part by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and conducted by a multicenter team of scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital, Logan University, the Korean Institute of Oriental Medicine, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates/Atrium Health, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is the first sham-controlled neuroimaging acupuncture study for CTS. It was published in the journal Brain.

The scientists divided 80 adults (65 of whom were women) into three groups:

  • The first acupuncture group received electroacupuncture (acupuncture coupled with electrical stimulation) treatments and manually-inserted acupuncture needles at the affected wrist.
  • The second acupuncture group received electroacupuncture treatments at the ankle opposite the affected wrist and manually-inserted acupuncture needles on one or both lower legs.
  • The control group received sham electroacupuncture treatments on the forearm of the affected wrist and sham non-insertive manual needles on the same forearm and the opposite lower leg.

Participants received 16 treatments over 8 weeks. The researchers assessed pain and tingling/pricking symptoms at baseline, following therapy, and at 3-month followup viathe Boston Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Questionnaire. They also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify points in the somatosensory cortex of the brain that correspond to stimulated wrist/ankle points and assessed median sensory nerve conduction latency (both techniques were conducted at baseline and following therapy).

The researchers found that both true and sham acupuncture reduced CTS symptoms, but true acupuncture was superior in improving peripheral and brain neurophysiologic outcomes. True acupuncture at the affected hand resulted in measurable improvements in the affected wrist; true acupuncture on the opposite lower leg also reduced symptoms. Both were superior to sham acupuncture in improving median nerve conduction latency and brain imaging assessments of digit 2 and 3 separation in somatosensory cortex.  A better brain imaging outcome immediately after the 8-week acupuncture treatments was also associated with a better sustained symptom improvement at 3-month followups. When compared to 34 healthy adults, CTS patients’ brain imaging findings suggest that true acupuncture treatments at the affected hand and on the opposite lower leg may both improve median nerve function at the wrist but are associated with distinct acupuncture-induced neuroplastic changes in the primary somatosensory cortex.

The researchers say their findings suggest that acupuncture may improve CTS pathophysiology by both local and brain-based mechanisms involving neuroplasticity of the primary somatosensory cortex.


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Publication Date: 

March 2, 2017

Acupuncture With a Zap May Ease Constipation.

             By NICHOLAS BAKALARSEPT. 12, 2016 / New York Times

Acupuncture to the abdomen, boosted by an electric current, helped relieve severe constipation, a new study found.

Chinese researchers studied 1,075 patients with severe functional constipation, which means they were unable to have a complete bowel movement more than twice a week. The study subjects all reported a number of unpleasant symptoms, including hard stools, a sensation of incomplete evacuation and often needing to strain when going to the bathroom. They were randomly assigned to receive either a form of acupuncture or a sham procedure, according to the report published today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

For the treatment group, the researchers used electro-acupuncture, in which low-voltage currents are passed through acupuncture needles. Trained acupuncturists inserted needles at six acupuncture points in the abdomen deep enough to puncture the muscle layer of the abdominal wall, and then passed current through attached wires for 30 minutes. The control group received shallow needles at nonacupuncture points, with electrical wires attached in the same way, but with no current passing through them. The procedures were repeated in 28 sessions over eight weeks.

Participants in both groups were allowed to use a laxative every three days if needed, and they recorded their use in diaries.

During the eight weeks of treatment, 31.3 percent of people in the treatment group showed improvement (measured by three or more bowel movements per week without the need for laxatives) compared with just 12.1 percent in the control group who improved. Over the 12 weeks of follow-up, 37.7 percent of the treatment group reported similar levels of improvement, compared to 14.1 percent of the patients in the control group.

             The authors acknowledge that the acupuncture treatment could not be fully blinded,                      possibly influencing the researchers’ expectations. While it’s not known exactly why                      acupuncture may have made a difference, one theory is that the treatment stimulates the              muscles along the gastrointestinal tract.

The researchers noted that more study is needed. “Though the safety of acupuncture is good, we do not suggest it as a first-line treatment,” said the lead author, Dr. Marie Jia Liu of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. “The people in this study had severe constipation.”

Are you stressed out? Try something different, ear acupuncture.

Posted on April 23, 2015

In a TV show about healthy living on the first channel of the Russian national television, Mark Sandomirsky, a doctor of medical science and psychiatrist, advices his patients to relieve stress using a simple technique.

The causes and effects of stress often vary, and people experience it in many different ways. After being stressed, we are left with an uncomfortable feeling, followed by a feeling of heaviness or pain in certain parts of the body.

The first thing you should do is get rid of all destructive emotions. Do not keep them in yourself. Then, remove the physical effects. Psycho-reflexology can help you a lot. The fact is, nature has created certain anti-stress points in the body. You should just massage these points to relieve stress.

Ancient Chinese called this point Shen Men or “The Gate of Heaven,” because its treatment brings celestial energy to your body. Shen men is a deep, miraculous point that strengthens the overall health of your body, decreases stress and boosts the energy flow.

This acupressure point also suppresses inflammation and addiction, and its treatment relieves pain in every part of your body. Massage the Shen men point on your ear to relieve stress Shen men or the Gate of heaven is located in the center of the upper third part of your ear.