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Does Kevin Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Hi there! My husband is 25 years old and is experiencing tingling and pain in his whole hand. He’s seen a doctor, and she performed imaging of his neck and the results were negative, and performed a nerve conduction test and the results were positive. She says that he has carpal tunnel syndrome and recommends surgery. Could he really have carpal tunnel syndrome, and is surgery the only option? I don’t know much about traditional Chinese medicine, but my friends insist that he visits a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, but I’m not sure what they could be able to do for him. I called one TCM doctor nearby, and each visit is over $100, so I’d like to know what kinds of tests and treatments could they provide if he really does have carpal tunnel syndrome. Thank you so much!

If your doctors said he has carpal tunnel syndrome, then, yes, he most likely does. Now the real question is whether he needs surgery or not and this is where the answer is most likely not and most certainly not right away. The surgery can be helpful, but it has poor longer term success rates.

This is extremely common to treat (and resolve) in Chinese Medicine. I could get into all of the details why but suffice it to say that part of it treating it more systemically (i.e. the neck is involved, tension elsewhere is involved, etc.). You will want to see an acupuncturist who also practices tuina (Chinese medical massage), which in my opinion is the best combination. And you may need 4-10 treatments.

With regards to cost, you can probably search around a bit for another acupuncturist that charges less, but if they resolved this in even 25 treatments that would be less than the cost of a single MRI, and certainly less than surgery with a far better long term prognosis.

Also, since you are asking what tests they would do as an acupuncturist to confirm the diagnosis - if it isn’t clear already the western diagnosis is meaningless in the sense that it is the end result of a host of factors that need to be dealt with rather than attacking the final symptomatic outcome (see “treating the cause vs. the symptoms” for more on that).

He should do perfectly fine with properly applied acupuncture, this is extremely common.

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