There are many alternative carpal tunnel treatments available today for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, yoga, massage, Rolfing, laser therapy and vitamin B6 supplements.
Some believe that these methods have stood the test of time, while others feel they may just be a lot of hype. (Alternative medicine is sometimes also referred to as Homeopathic medicine).
But first, lets talk about what makes it an alternative carpal tunnel treatment.
Typically these are treatments or a type of care that is considered outside the "normal" main-stream, or traditional medical care for the country you are in
In the United States for example, "main-stream medicine" or "western medicine" generally means you are receiving care from a formally trained physician who may belong to the American Medical Association. They are generally board-certified in whatever field of medicine they are practicing in.
Western medicine providers also include D.O.'s (Doctor of osteopathic medicine), as well as PA-C's (Physician Assistants) and N.P's (Nurse Practioners). Keep in mind that some providers may choose to learn and practice alternative medicine as well.
This is not to say that you won't get relief from alternative or homeopathic methods.
Many people prefer these types of treatments over the more traditional ones. People who believe in different alternative carpal tunnel treatments feel there is less risk of side effects with these type of treatments than from say, traditional medicines, or steroid injections or they fear CARPAL TUNNEL SURGERY and/or its COMPLICATIONS.
Although Chiropractors have made huge in-roads into the "main-stream of medicine", with advertising and marketing techniques, they are generally still considered an alternative choice of treatment (at least) when it comes to carpal tunnel syndrome and available treatment options. From my experience, many chiropractors feel they can make cervical or neck adjustments in patients with carpal tunnel like symptoms, which they feel will resolve the numbness and tingling in the patient's hands.
However, if it is truly a case of carpal tunnel syndrome, which is localized to the wrist area, cervical adjustments will not help. I would also advise getting an MRI of the neck before any chiropractic treatments of the neck.
Critics of alternative carpal tunnel treatments point to the lack of unbiased, or FDA appproved clinical trials, or peer reviewed studies. They point out that "traditional medicine" treatments undergo extensive FDA approved head to head trials, double-blind studies (i.e. where the doctor nor the patient know what medicine the patient is getting), these studies are then submitted to leading medical journals for peer review and critique.
Following those guidelines, it's difficult to find studies comparing different types of alternative carpal tunnel treatments either to themselves (i.e. other alternative treatments) or to traditional forms of treatments. Such as yoga and/or massage, compared to CORTISONE INJECTIONS, carpal tunnel surgery, OR NON-SURGICAL TREATMENTS.
These studies or trials can be very expensive to run and since many of these treatments are generic and can't be patented, it's difficult to find companies who would fund these studies, because in the end, they probably can't make money off of the results.
Unlike the big drug companies who sponsor these huge clinical drug trials, so that if their drug shows a better outcome, then they can in return sell more medicine, make a good profit, and research more medicines etc...
So anyway, what happens then is usually the "yoga supporters" do their own little study, and the "massage supporters" do their own little study, as do chiropractors and yes to some extent, if a physician has invented a treatment or a new little twist on a surgical procedure they do their own little study.
So you have all these different studies, but they often just compare them to their own results.
In other words, a carpal tunnel yoga study may just compare people with CTS, who did yoga vs doing nothing, instead of comparing to non-surgical treatments, like day and night splinting, Ice wraps, steroid injections, or to carpal tunnel surgery.
The people getting yoga may have showed improvement, but if it's not compared head to head it's hard for you, THE CONSUMER, to make an informed decision.
Of course patients who "believe" that their treatment will work or is the best, often do better anyway...whether you are talking about alternative or traditional methods.
If you are inclined to try alternative carpal tunnel treatments, do your homework!Ask around, talk to your friends and family members you have had CTS and who have been treated with alternative methods and see if it has worked for them. Ask questions of the homeopathic provider just as you should do of any physician or provider you are seeing.
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