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Carpel Tunnel and Acupuncture – Is it Effective?

September 15, 2010

By Neeki Smith, L.Ac, The Center: Natural Health Specialists

Acupuncture and oriental medicine are very effective for carpel tunnel syndrome.  I have helped many patients with this painful disorder and have kept several clients out of surgery.

First and foremost, even if you have been diagnosed with carpel tunnel, I would re-evaluate you to see if you really have carpel tunnel or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).  TOS and carpel tunnel have similar signs and symptoms; numb, tingling or burning hands, and pain in the wrists and/or hands.

In TOS the veins, nerves, and arteries are pinched in the shoulder area, usually between the first rib and the collar bone, due to tight muscles.

In carpel tunnel, the veins, nerves, and arteries are pinched in the wrist area, usually due to inflammation from over-use.  The wrist is kept stable and in place by a connective tissue called the retinaculum, which acts like a wide band around the wrist.  The retinaculum does not stretch and when the tissue becomes inflamed, there is nowhere for the swollen tissue to go except inwards – pinching the nerves, veins and arteries and causing pain, tingling, numbness, or burning in the local area.

In TOS, the same symptoms occur in the wrist, even though the pinching is occurring in the shoulder area, making carpel tunnel and TOS difficult to tell apart.

Treatment consists of a series of acupuncture treatments, Tui Na (a form of therapeutic massage), a topical anti-inflammatory, stretches, and sometimes Chinese herbs and other supplements, depending on your case.  The doctor recommended brace works well, although some people complain about not being able to sleep with the brace on.  Of course, reducing the use of your hands and wrists will help too, but that is not possible for most people.

Doing ALL of the recommended treatments AT THE SAME TIME is vitally important.  You can’t try the brace or stretches alone and say it didn’t work – it is a comprehensive treatment program that takes a number of weeks, and sometimes months in severe cases.

Results of treatment vary depending on the severity of your case and your compliance to treatment recommendations.  Most clients have a significant reduction in symptoms within the first 3-4 treatments, usually enough to keep them out of surgery.

Some people get 80% better, and then stop treatment because the symptoms become tolerable.  Stopping treatment early is not advisable, as the symptoms tend to recur or linger if treatment is not complete, compounding the problem and making complete recovery much more difficult.

Acupuncture and oriental medicine are a viable alternative to drugs and surgery for carpel tunnel syndrome and TOS.

Gluten-Free Living

September 14, 2010

Gluten has been catching a lot of flack lately. Whether you are suffering from celiac disease, IBS, gluten allergies, or just trying to lose weight, odds are you have heard of the gluten-free diet. So, what is gluten anyway? Why should you free yourself from it? And, how exactly are you to go about avoiding something that seems to be everywhere?

Gluten is an elastic protein in wheat, rye, barley and other carbohydrates that basically holds things together. Its elasticity is what allows bread to rise, it is what makes bagels so chewy, and it is exactly why it can be so difficult to digest. Because of gluten’s elasticity, it is often used as a thickener in commercial products, meaning many processed foods contain gluten, even if they don’t contain wheat. From candy to lunchmeat, gluten can be found just about everywhere. Cutting gluten out of your diet means investigating every detail of everything you eat. So, here is a basic gluten-free beginner’s list of do’s and don’ts:


              EAT THIS:                                                                                                       NOT THIS:

                 quinoa                                                                                                               wheat

              buckwheat                                                                                                       semolina

               popcorn                                                                                                               rye

                millet                                                                                                                 barley

             cornmeal                                                                                                             bran

                  flax                                                                                                              wheat germ

When shopping for gluten-free goodies, your best bet is your local natural health food store. Here in Raleigh, some good options are Earth Fare, Harmony Farms Natural Foods, and Whole Foods. Another fantastic place to check out is Rosie’s Plate. At Rosie’s Plate, not only do they sell gluten-free products like pancake mix, and oats, but they are also a completely gluten, peanut, and shellfish free kitchen cooking up delicious entrees, soups, desserts, and more. You can even order your meals ahead of time and have them delivered to your home! If you are struggling to get started, visit the Rosie’s Plate website and check out their 7 Day Elimination Menu. They even host classes to help you fully understand the gluten-free lifestyle, and show you how to make delicious, gluten-free meals even your kids will love. Visit their events page to check out a full schedule.

For more information about the gluten-free diet and if is right for you – talk to your health care practitioner today.


August 15, 2010

Welcome to The Center: Natural Health Specialists’ blog. We have created this blog to share information that will help you lead a naturally healthy life. Check back soon for health tips, recipes, and more!