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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Wrist pain, regardless of the cause, has in the past few years come to be called carpal tunnel syndrome. Actual carpal tunnel syndrome is relatively rare and is almost always related to thyroid dysfunction and is often the earliest sign that there is something wrong with the thyroid gland.

It is commonly known that people with thyroid disease develop carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. The explanation for this is found in Chinese medicine. The carpal tunnel itself is an area of the wrist with carpal (wrist) bones on the back and a tough band of tissues, the flexor retinaculum, in the front forming a tunnel through which pass some finger muscle tendons and a major nerve. Ongoing irritation in this area can cause swelling of the tissues. This disrupts normal movement of the tendons and puts pressure on the nerve, creating a situation of pain, numbness and loss of wrist and finger function. The preferred medical treatment is rest, antiinflamatory drugs, bracing the wrist, and eventually surgical resection of the retinaculum – usually every few years.

In Chinese medicine, we see that the meridian – the pathway of chi energy – that is associated with the thyroid gland passes through the shoulder (see rotator cuff) and the elbow (see tennis elbow) and the carpal tunnel. If thyroid is not properly balanced, excess energy in this meridian causes irritation and inflammation along its path. The tissues swell and the symptom arises.

Using acupuncture protocols, the thyroid and its energies can be normalized so that chiropractic adjustment of the shoulder, elbow and wrist can quickly solve the problem.