Carpal tunnel pain is generally thought to be due to compression of the medial nerve at the location of the carpal tunnel, with primary symptoms of pain and numbness in the wrist extending into the palm. There is some speculation that carpal tunnel pain can be due to medial nerve impingement anywhere along its pathway, from the wrist all the way up to the shoulder, although there is not much consensus in this regard. Oftentimes, the cause of carpal tunnel is unknown.
Pseudo carpal tunnel exhibits very similar pain patterns – numbness, tingling, and loss of strength in the hand, wrist and forearm, but is due to chronic muscle tension and tightness creating “referred pain”. Typically, this chronic tension comes from the forearm at the inside of the elbow, but, it can also be due to the tension at the neck and shoulders.
Because the areas of perceived pain are the same, pseudo-carpal tunnel is often misdiagnosed as true carpal tunnel, without any actual hands-on palpation. This is unfortunate for the patient, because treatment options for carpal tunnel (surgery) generally won’t be effective for pseudo carpal tunnel, and are very invasive and expensive. Do a quick Google search of “failed carpal tunnel surgery syndrome” and see for yourself.
By far, a better first step in treating this type of hand and forearm pain is with acupuncture. Acupuncture can effectively relieve chronic muscle tension with minimal risk, invasiveness, and at far less cost than surgery. Even in cases of true carpal tunnel syndrome, acupuncture can be used to treat inflammation in the carpal tunnel. Given the risks and costs of surgery, it is worth it try acupuncture first. More than likely, you’ll find effective relief. If your case is severe and you do end up needing surgery, at the very least, you’ll know that you’ve tried all of your other options, and you won’t be left regretting a surgery that may not have been necessary.