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J Altern Complement Med. 2019 Sep 9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2019.0169. [Epub ahead of print]

Laser Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Single-Blinded Controlled Study.

Juan CW1,2, Chang MH3,4, Lin TH1, Hwang KL5, Fu TC6,7, Shih PH8,9, Chang CM10,11, Yang CP12,13.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Kuang Tien General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Nursing, HungKuang University, Taichung, Taiwan.
Section of Neurology, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Neurology, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Public Health, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Keelung, Taiwan.
School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Department of Chinese Medicine, Cheng Hsin General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
Institute of Traditional Medicine, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Center for Traditional Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
Faculty of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Neurology, Kuang Tien General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Nutrition, Huang-Kuang University, Taichung, Taiwan.


Objectives: This study aimed to compare the efficacy of laser acupuncture (LA) treatment with that of placebo LA treatment in patients with idiopathic, mild-to-moderate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), as measured by subjective symptom assessments and objective changes in nerve conduction studies (NCSs). Design: A randomized, single-blinded, controlled study. Settings: A Teaching Hospital in the Taichung, Taiwan between March 2013 and November 2013. Subjects: 84 consecutive treatment-naive patients with CTS. Interventions: Participants were randomly divided into two treatment arms: (1) LA, administered at traditional Chinese acu-points on the affected side, once a day, 5 times a week, for 4 weeks (N = 43); and (2) placebo LA, administered using the same device and protocol, with the LA device switched off (N = 41). Outcome measures: Patients completed the Global symptom score (GSS) at baseline and two and four weeks later. The primary outcome was changes in GSS. NCSs were performed at baseline and repeated at the end of the study as a secondary outcome. Results: There was a significantly greater reduction in GSS in the LA group than in the placebo group at week 2 (-9.30 ± 4.94 vs. -2.29 ± 4.27, respectively, P < 0.01) and at week 4 (-10.67 ± 5.98 vs. -2.90 ± 5.61, respectively, P < 0.01). However, NCSs did not show significant difference between the two groups. Conclusions: LA may be more effective than placebo LA in the treatment of mild-to-moderate idiopathic CTS in terms of subjective measurement. For patients who fear needle-based treatment, such as acupuncture or local injections, or those who do not opt for early surgical decompression, LA treatment can be considered as an effective and alternative form of acu-points stimulation therapy.


carpal tunnel syndrome; laser acupuncture; low-level laser


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