Acupuncture for Hand & Wrist Pain

Acupuncture for Hand & Wrist Pain

            Acupuncture for hand and wrist pain may be one that tends to go under the radar, but is highly effective. Wrist and/or hand pain, with a prevalence of about 19.1%, is the third most common work-related injury. Additionally, over the past decade, there were an estimated 2.6 million hand and wrist injuries annually in the United States. While each case is unique, acupuncture is a modality that can treat various issues regarding the wrist and hand including conditions that cause it as well as everyday issues.

Hand & Wrist Pain

            In most cases, hand and wrist pain isn’t indicative of a more serious or chronic problem, and will resolve on its own. In this event in western medicine, the remedy is simply to avoid those tasks that make the pain worse, over the counter painkillers, ice and heat, or wearing a splint. Symptoms involving hand and wrist pain can vary depending on the cause. For instance, something like carpal tunnel will usually give a pins and needles feeling, whereas osteoarthritis is often more of a dull ache.

Possible Causes of Hand & Wrist Pain:

  • Injuries – this can be due to an impact injury or just overuse.

    • Impact – falling forward onto an outstretched hand causing a sprain or fracture.

    • Repetitive overuse – any activity where the hand/wrist is being used in a motion over and over inflaming the tissues surrounding the joints which can sometimes lead to stress fractures. This could be anything from being an athlete, musician, working at a computer, or even driving.

  • Arthritis – arthritis can cause a whole slew of issues in various parts of the body, not least of which being the hands and wrists.

    • Rheumatoid Arthritis – commonly known for involving the wrist, and usually if one is affected, the other is as well.

    • Osteoarthritis – cartilage deteriorates over time at the ends of the bones, and in the case of the hand or wrist, it is less common and usually occurs in those that have injured the hand/wrist in the past.

  • Hand/Wrist Conditions – there are also specific conditions that will contribute to hand/wrist issues.

    • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – increased pressure on the median nerve

    • Kienbock Disease – the small bones in the wrist progressively collapses due to not enough blood supply to those bones.

    • Ganglion Cyst – soft tissue cysts that show on the part of the wrist opposite the palm causing pain that either improves or worsens with activity.
In western medicine, there are preventative measures that patients can take in their everyday life to help avoid hand and/or wrist issues such as paying attention to ergonomics, wear protective gear during athletic activities, wearing proper foot gear to prevent falls, and building bone strength with calcium. Although these are good preventative measures to take that do help, in this day and age with cell phones, video game controllers, and trackpads on laptops, it is often hard to avoid these issues altogether on a daily basis. Adding acupuncture to these preventative measures can make for a more realistic option for those that cannot avoid the repetitive use.

Acupuncture & The Hands & Wrists

            Acupuncture works for hand and wrist pain by relaxing any spasms and increasing circulation bringing fresh oxygen and blood to the hand and wrist. The hands and wrists are such a fragile area, and there are dozens of small bones, ligaments, and joints to give a wide range of motion in the hand and wrist. Since this is the case, there are many factors that should come in to play when it comes to keeping the hands or wrists in working condition including additional regular acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture works not only to treat existing issues, but also for maintenance on hand and wrist pain.

Acupuncture for hand & wrist conditions:

  • Arthritis

  • Sprain

  • Trigger Finger

  • Tendonitis

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The hands play a pivotal role in day to day life, and along with acupuncture treatment, depending on your practice, an herbal soak can also be very beneficial for hand and wrist pain issues. It allows for the herbal medicine to be absorbed directly into the affected areas to cease pain, increase circulation, and encourage healing of surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Additionally, it is fortunate that some of the most powerful acupuncture points are located in the hand. The hands play a pivotal role in day to day life, and acupuncture treatment can provide both local point anti-inflammatory and pain benefits, as well as address nerve function and mobility issues.

Acupuncture Points for the Hand & Wrist:

  • Wrist:

    • HT5, LI5 (local), LI7, LI10, LU9

  • Hands/Fingers:

    • LU7, SI2 (local), SI4 (local), SI5 (local), SI7 (local)

  • Either:

    • PC6, LI4, TB3
There have also been a solid amount of recent research showing the benefits of acupuncture for hand and wrist pain.
  • Two Case Reports – Acupuncture for Hand and Wrist Pain, June 2017:
    • Two female patients aged 51 and 65 years old with wrist pain were treated with acupuncture. The first patient received 1 treatment, and the other received 3 treatments.

    • Case reports found acupuncture to effectively decrease wrist pain.

  • Acupuncture Treatment in Hand and Wrist Pain, September 2019:
    • 15 patients were included in this study composed of 11 women and 4 men aged 27 – 67 years of age. All of the patients were treated with acupuncture for hand and wrist pain, and were recorded with their age, gender, profession, and number of acupuncture treatments received to be analyzed.

    • This study found acupuncture to be an effective and safe treatment, improves the general condition of the body, and many patients were cured after 1 treatment.

  • The Effect of Acupuncture on Hand and Wrist Pain Intensity, Functional Status, and Quality of Life in Adults, February 2022:
    • The effects of acupuncture on hand and wrist pain were examined within 6 databases, as well as previous randomized controlled trials. There were 10 randomized controlled trials included encompassing 622 total participants.

    • This study found acupuncture to be safe and effective in pain reduction and functional improvement for hand and wrist issues.
Since acupuncture treatment releases tension, it allows the nerves to flow more freely giving blood flow to the hand and wrist, and therefore decreasing pain.

Hand & Wrist Acupuncture

            Although hand and wrist pain are not the first thing someone thinks of when it comes to acupuncture treatment, it is a very common issue we see daily in an acupuncture provider office. The hands and wrists are in extreme use day in and day out that it is no wonder that issues can easily develop over time, and especially after trauma. Acupuncture for the hand and wrist is a viable option or addition to a treatment of hand and wrist issues or simply to contend with daily hand and wrist issues. Either way, as studies have shown, acupuncture has been proven to be not only safe and effective, but quick in the way of curing hand and wrist pain.
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