Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Laser Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This information is provided in response to a request from the public for information on availability of an alternative therapy to treat the painful symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) or Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). It is not intended to replace medical advice.
This alternative therapy applies painless, non-invasive red-beam laser light and microamps transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to acupuncture points on the involved hand.
The results from that study were published in the July, 2002 issue of the journal, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Vol. 83, pages 978-988). That abstract is provided here:
Objective: To investigate whether real or sham, low-level laser therapy (LLLT) plus microamps TENS applied to acupuncture points significantly reduces pain in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo control, crossover trial. Patients and staff administering outcome measures, blinded.
Setting: Outpatient, V.A. hospital, university-affiliated.
Patients: Eleven mild-moderate CTS cases (nerve conduction study, clinical exam) who failed standard medical or surgical treatment for 3-30 months.
Intervention: Patients received real and sham treatment series (each for 3-4 weeks), order randomized. Real treatments used red-beam laser (continuous wave, 15 mW, 632.8 nm) on shallow acupuncture points on affected hand; infrared laser (pulsed, 9.4W, 904 nm) on deeper points on UE and cervical paraspinal areas; and microamps TENS on affected wrist. Devices were painless, non-invasive and produced no sensation whether real or sham. Hand treated behind hanging black curtain without patient knowing if devices were turned on (real) or off (sham).
Main Outcome Measures: Melzack pain score, sensory and motor latencies, Phalen and Tinel signs.
Results: Significant decreases in Melzack pain score, median nerve sensory latency, Phalen sign and Tinel sign, Post-real treatment series but not Post-sham. Patients able to perform prior work (computer typist, handyman) and stable for 1-3 years.
Conclusions: This new, conservative treatment was effective to treat CTS pain in this study, larger studies are recommended.

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