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J Acupunct Res > Volume 32(2); 2015 > Article
Kim and Song: Traditional Korean Medicine Therapy for Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Patients with Wrist Pain: A Systematic Review※
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This study aims to evaluate current clinical evidence of traditional Korean medicine treatment on wrist pain with carpal tunnel syndrome.


Ten Korean databases were searched for prospective clinical trials of traditional Korean medicine therapy on wrist pain with carpal tunnel syndrome from the time of their inception to February, 2015. Studies conducted in Korean, Chinese and English were searched. Risk of bias in included non-randomized controlled trials was assessed by the Cochrane handbook procedure.


Four non-randomized controlled trials were included. A high risk of bias was observed in all trials. All of the included studies reported favorable effects being experienced by an intervention group compared to a baseline or control group. Included studies never described any occurrence of adverse events.


There is no evidence that traditional Korean medicine treatments are effective for treating wrist pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. All of the included studies lacked appropriate methodological qualities and internal validity. Future well-designed clinical trials that evaluate the effects and safety of traditional Korean medicine treatment for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome are needed.


This research was supported by the Gachon University Research Fund in 2015.

Table 1.
Summary of Clinical Studies of Traditional Korean Medicine Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Patients with Wrist Pain
First author (year) Design sample size age range or mean age(years) gender (M/F) diagnosis Intervention grup (regimens) Control group (regimens) Main outcomes Results Adverse events
Bae(2007) CCT 21 patients plus 19 patients 55.7 +_ 6.3 and 58.5 +_9.8 3/18 plus 4/15 clinical symptoms and EMG results 3-week treatments including over once a week-acupuncture and three times a day herbal medicine treatments(Gyejibok ryung pill)(N=21) Three times a day-acetaminop hen 650 mg medication for three weeks (occasionally with local steroid injection) (N=19) 1) VAS
2) Thorough emission of pain
1) p<0.05
2) NRS
Ku(2010) CCT 22 hands with 16 patients 57.10+-4.15 and 56.25+-7.52 1/9 + 1/11 Clinical symptoms and NCV results Twice a week-Sweet BV pharmacopuncture for 4 weeks(N=10) Twice a week -pharmacopuncture with Scolopendra morsitans L. for 4 weeks(N=12) 1) VAS
2) PRS
1) p>0.05
2) p<0.05
Choi(2005) CCT 10 patients 43 and 49 2/3 + 1/4 clinical symptoms CF pharmacopuncture with acupuncture, once when patient came. Treatment is stopped when the symptom is lessened or Phalen sign is negative. Only acupuncture, once when patient came. Treatment is stopped when the symptom is lessened or Phalen sign is negative. 1) Clinical symptoms
2) Grading with Phalen’s test
1) p<0.05
2) p<0.05
Lim(2005) CCT 40 patients 32 to 76(average 49) and 33 to 67(average 49.95) 3/17 + 4/16 clinical symptoms Both pharmacopuncture with Scolopendra morsitans L. and acupuncture Only acupuncture 1) VAS
2) Thorough emission of pain
1) p<0.05
2) p<0.05

CCT: case control trial. VAS: visual analog scale. NRS: numeric rating scale. PRS: pain rating scale.



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