What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel such as numbness, tingling, pain, burning, and weakness in the arms and hands often, but not always, result from inflammation due to frequent, repetitive physical movements.

There are a number of things that can cause or put you at risk for developing CTS. These include:

  • Genetic predisposition: Small bones or a small carpal canal increases the risk.
  • Hormonal changes: For women, hormonal fluctuations increase the chances of the syndrome; pregnancy and menopause can be particularly problematic.
  • Diseases: Conditions like arthritis, lupus, diabetes and obesity can lead to narrowing of the canal.
  • Repetitive motions: Excessively doing activities like typing, using hand tools, gardening, golfing, sewing and massaging can repeatedly strain the area, causing localized inflammation and trauma.

The onset of symptoms may start gradually and become worse over time, especially if the same motions are repeated on a near daily basis. Even though some repetitive motions such as typing on the computer or using the phone are not strenuous activities in and of themselves, if performed often enough, the cumulative effect builds up. If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to what is known as nocturnal awakenings, which refers to waking up in the middle of the night from pain and discomfort.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist made up of ligaments and bones. The median nerve and the tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the forearm pass through this tightly spaced tunnel.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as median nerve entrapment, occurs when swelling or irritation of the nerve or tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve.  The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers. The symptoms often first appear during the night.  As symptoms worsen, people might feel pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks.  If not properly treated, CTS can cause irreversible nerve damage and permanent deterioration of muscle tissue.

Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Low back pain is an extremely common concern, affecting anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of people at some point in their lives. Low back pain is second only to the common cold as a cause of lost days at work and is one of the most common reasons to seek medical care. In fact, one of the top reasons that people get acupuncture treatments is for low back pain.

In spite of the large number of pathological conditions that can give rise to low back pain, up to 85 percent of the cases are classified by physicians as ‘non-specific’. When low back pain is examined from an Oriental medicine perspective, it is seen as a disruption to the flow of Qi within the area and associated with a specific disharmony and is treated accordingly.

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The disruption of Qi that results in low back pain is usually associated with the following three disharmonies:

Weak Kidney Qi – In Oriental medicine, the lower back is referred to as the “dwelling of the kidneys”. The majority of chronic low back pain conditions are associated with kidney deficiency. Pain related to kidney deficiency is typically dull and erratic. It is usually aggravated by fatigue and improves with rest.

Stagnation of Qi and Blood – When the flow of Qi along the meridians that traverse the lumbar region becomes congested, it is referred to as the stagnation of Qi and blood. This presents with a severe stabbing pain that is worse with rest and better with movement, tender to touch, and can be accompanied by stiffness and tightness.

Invasion of Cold and Dampness – Cold, damp type pain is generally worse in the morning and when the weather is cold and damp. This type of pain improves with movement and the application of heat. Stiffness and contraction of back muscles that is aggravated by immobility indicates cold predominance. Swelling, numbness, and a heavy sensation are indicative of dampness.

What is Autoimmune Disease?

An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. Over 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroid disease, Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Many of these autoimmune disorders are considered to be extremely difficult to treat.

What Causes Autoimmune Disease?

Under normal conditions, an immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one’s own body. In certain cases, however, immune cells make a mistake and attack the very cells that they are meant to protect. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases. They encompass a broad category of over 100 diseases in which the person’s immune system attacks his or her own cells and tissue.

The exact mechanisms causing these changes are not completely understood, but bacteria, viruses, toxins, and some synthetic drugs may play a role in triggering an autoimmune process in someone who already has a genetic (inherited) predisposition to develop such a disorder. It is theorized that the inflammation initiated by these agents–toxic or infectious–somehow provokes in the body a “sensitization” (autoimmune reaction) in the involved tissues.

As the disease develops, vague symptoms start to appear, such as joint and muscle pain, general muscle weakness, possible rashes or low-grade fever, trouble concentrating, or weight loss. Numbness and tingling in hands and feet, dry eyes, hair loss, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or repeated miscarriages may also indicate that something is wrong with the immune system.

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How Acupuncture Treats Autoimmune Disorders

According to Oriental medicine, autoimmune disorders occur when there is an imbalance within the body. Imbalance can come from an excess or deficiency of Yin and Yang that disrupts the flow of Qi, or vital energy, through the body. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual.

Clinical research has shown that acupuncture causes physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release proteins, hormones and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions. It is proposed that, by these actions, acupuncture affects blood pressure, body temperature and the immune system.

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How Nutrition Response Testing Can Help Autoimmune Conditions?

Despite notable advancement of medical science, when it comes to our physical bodies, we still do not understand most of incredibly complex and intricate processes of our body mechanisms. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to speculate that overgrowth of some pathogens such as bacteria, virus, yeast, or accumulated metal/chemical toxins in certain organs can trigger chain reactions in surrounding tissues. Over time, this “confusion” in the tissues sends “confusing” signals to the central nervous system, which subsequently sends other “confusing” commands to our immune functions. When this “confusion” persists over a long period of time, our immune functions can no longer identify which agents they need to “fight against” or to “fight for”. The results are typically displayed as autoimmune conditions such as allergies, arthritis, or lupus.

The nutrition response testing is designed specifically to identify the most fundamental, prominent causes of autoimmune conditions. For instance, the real culprit of chronic thyroid conditions may be some “retro-virus” stuck on someone’s liver. Under this scenario, unless this virus issue is resolved, this patient cannot get better even if she religiously follows medical protocol prescribed by her endocrinologist. Can MS (multiple sclerosis) caused by mercury toxins in someone’s teeth? Is adrenal exhaustion (Addison’s disease) caused by none other than parasites in the kidneys? With nutrition program, there are virtually unlimited different situations since “anything can cause anything” in our bodies.

Real food-based nutrition program, combined with accurate testing based on not our “learned knowledge,” but on “mysterious intelligence” within our bodies, will provide us with a safe and effective route to combat any diseases, especially autoimmune conditions.

To learn more about how acupuncture and nutrition program can safely and effectively be incorporated into care for people with an autoimmune disorder, please call for a consultation today.

What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. It is diagnosed when there is a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for at least three months, and pain in at least 11 of 18 designated tender points on the body.

What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?

From the perspective of western medicine, Fibromyalgia is an enigma since there’s no medically explained syndrome. There are no laboratory tests that can confirm this diagnosis either.

While not all affected persons experience all associated symptoms, the following symptoms commonly occur together:

  • Chronic pain
  • Debilitating fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Joint stiffness
  • Chronic headaches
  • Dryness
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Inability to concentrate (called “fibro fog”)
  • Incontinence
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Numbness
  • Tingling or poor circulation in the hands and feet
  • Painful menstrual cramps
  • Restless legs syndrome

Symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event. Women are more prone to develop the disorder than are men, and the risk of Fibromyalgia increases with age.

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Research shows that up to 90 percent of people with Fibromyalgia have turned to complementary or alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has been shown to be an effective treatment for FMS.

From A Chinese Medical Perspective

Chinese medicine does not recognize Fibromyalgia as one particular disease pattern. Instead, it aims to treat the symptoms unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, the intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms.

Since symptoms of Fibromyalgia vary greatly from one person to another, a wide array of traditional and alternative treatments have been shown to be the most effective way of treating this difficult syndrome.

From a Chinese medical perspective, Fibromyalgia is viewed as a classical case of “Severe Stagnation of Qi and Blood.”

The theory of pain is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: “Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” which means “free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain.”—which means when the Qi (vital energy force) and blood flow smoothly, there can’t be any pain. The disruption of Qi that results in Fibromyalgia is usually associated with disharmonies of the Liver, Spleen, Kidney, and Heart systems.

Since pain is a hallmark symptom of Fibromyalgia, our treatment protocols focus on pain reduction primarily, along with stimulating the flow of Qi and blood in patients’ bodies. We also look into emotional/psychological components very seriously in treating Fibromyalgia.

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If you have Fibromyalgia, acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be what you’ve been looking for to ease your symptoms and reclaim your health and vitality.

Call us today – don’t delay, don’t live in pain – we are here to help you! Call us at 201-760-8811!

Sciatica and Acupuncture

Do You Suffer From Sciatica? Try Acupuncture first before anything else!

We are proud to report that  at Allendale Acupuncture has close to a 100% success rate in relieving sciatica pain. Most patients experience a significant decrease of the amount of pain after the first visit. Typically, it requires 5-7 visits to achieve a long-lasting relief.

If you feel pain in your lower back or hip that radiates to the back of your thigh and into your leg, (and sometimes to your foot,) you may have “sciatica.”

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Sciatica may feel like a bad leg cramp or sharp knife-like pain at times. Pain gets worse when you move, sneeze, or cough. You may also experience weakness, “pins and needles” numbness, or a burning or tingling sensation down your leg.

The pain can range from slightly annoying to totally unbearable. Some people have pain in one part of the leg and numbness in another part of the same leg. In rare cases, you may have numbness or tingling in your groin or genital area and lose control of your bladder or bowel.

Sciatica is most commonly caused by a herniated disk. The gel-like center (nucleus) of a disk may protrude into or through the disk’s outer lining. This herniated disk may press directly on the nerve roots that become the sciatic nerve. Nerve roots may also get inflamed and irritated by chemicals from the disk’s nucleus.

sciatica

If you are one of those “unlucky” folks with sciatica, what are your options?

You may visit an orthopedist that is likely to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants. If that doesn’t work, your doctor may inject your spinal area with a cortisone-like drug. The next stop is surgery to remove herniated disk to stop it from pressing your sciatic nerve.

It may come as a surprise to some, but try acupuncture first, if you experience sciatica. In fact, lower back pain and sciatica are two most common causes people knock on the door of the acupuncturist!

Acupuncture can help relieve pain, relax tight muscles, and help your body to heal itself without drugs or expensive and potentially risky surgery. In some cases we may recommend an MRI just to rule out anything serious (badly herniated disc, tumors, etc.), but for many patients acupuncture is all they need.

In our clinic, we open up a patient’s entire body first, before we tackle the specific sciatic nerve inflammation. Sometimes, just inserting a needle in the back of the head relieves the sciatica pain totally. Since most patients with sciatica have “imbalance” in their bladder and gallbladder meridians, we focus on treating the bladder and gallbladder pathways.

 

Managing Diabetes with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

It is estimated that 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes, a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Untreated diabetes affects the whole body and can lead to other medical problems, including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, peripheral neuropathy, digestive disorders and periodontal disease.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 people remain unaware that they live with diabetes. Sometimes the body will give warning signs that a person’s sugar metabolism is out of whack. Common signs of Type II(adult-onset) diabetes include:

  • Increased hunger (especially after eating)
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination or urinary infections
  • Unexplained weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry)
  • Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches

Diabetes is Called “A Wasting Disease” in Oriental Medicine

Acupuncture and Oriental medicines have been used to treat diabetes for over 2000 years.

According to Oriental medicine, diabetes is called “a wasting disease” caused by an imbalance of the cyclical flow of Qi within the meridians and organ systems.

This particular imbalance produces heat that depletes the body’s fluids and Qi, causing symptoms such as extreme fatigue, lethargy, unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst, excessive urination, excessive eating, slow healing of cuts and wounds, infections, irritability, tingling or numbness in the extremities, and blurry vision—all of which are signs of a person being “wasted.”

The treatment for diabetes will focus on regulating the circulation of blood and Qi and balancing the organ systems to improve pancreatic function and address internal heat and the depletion of fluids.

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In addition, acupuncture can treat peripheral neuropathy, one of the most devastating symptoms of diabetes.

Common signs of peripheral neuropathy include tingling, numbness, loss of sensation, muscle weakness and pain. For some people, it is experienced as the uncomfortable sensation of “pins and needles”, or burning pain (especially at night) of their hands or feet. Others may suffer even more extreme symptoms such as muscle atrophy, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction.

Oriental medicine teaches that peripheral neuropathy is due to dampness moving to the limbs, where it obstructs the flow of Qi (energy) and blood within them.

The treatment is twofold: to treat the underlying factor that is causing this dampness to accumulate, and to directly facilitate the circulation of Qi and blood in the affected area.

By improving circulation, the nerve tissues of the affected area can be nourished to repair function and reduce pain.

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Well-Known Procedures in Managing Diabetes

There are a number of well-publicized recommendations in managing diabetes.

1. Diet Changes

Anything too sweet must go. While a sweet taste delights our taste buds, overindulgence can cause or worsen digestive problems and upset our metabolic and emotional balance. In Oriental medicine, meats such as pork and chicken are considered sweet.

Vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes, corn, snow peas, squash and even turnips are also considered sweet.

Anything heavily processed or too greasy must be abstained. Too much dairy, deep-fried foods or canned foods must be avoided. Even fruits are recommended only in moderate amounts due to their relatively high sugar content.

2. Adopt Healthy Life Habits

Healthy habits such as maintaining optimal weight, avoiding exposure to toxins, following a well-supervised exercise program, and limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption can reduce the physical and emotional effects of diabetes.

3. Boost Circulation with Massage (for neuropathy patients)

Massage can help boost circulation, which is generally poor and leaves these areas vulnerable to trauma. You can stimulate your feet, lower legs, hands and arms with gentle massage using light pressure.

4. Relax to Reduce External Triggers

Consider relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis or biofeedback.

5. Soak for Pain Relief

A warm foot bath with Epsom salt may also help relieve pain. If there is loss of sensation in the hands or feet, you should avoid extreme temperatures, as you may not feel the damaging effects.