Print this page

Can acupuncture help with numbness and stiffness in my hand after a recent break?

A:  A great deal depends  on the extent of the damage when you broke your wrist. If a plate was necessary this probably indicates a quite serious break. If so, there may have been attendant nerve damage in the accident itself or in the subsequent repair which has been done. This may mean that the numbness may be a permanent feature, although there is a small body of evidence suggesting that nerves can regenerate or re-route in these circumstances so the outlook may not be too gloomy. Stiffness after a repair of this type is not at all unusual, and should improve with time. People are often give a number of physiotherapy exercises to help them to regain full function in these circumstances.

However, having said that, the theory underpinning traditional acupuncture does offer a small amount of hope that things may improve. Traditional Chinese medicine is premised on an understanding of the body as a flow of energy called 'qi', and its flow, rhythm and balance determines someone's overall state of health. At the very superficial level it is the flow of qi which maintains feeling and movement in the musculature, but any damage to the physical body can also impact on the flow of energy as it is expressed in this way. We find this particularly with scar tissue, but the kind of damage done by fractures and fracture repairs with plates is not far behind.

At this remove it is difficult to say whether or not treatment may be of any value. However, we are sure that if you pop along to a BAcC member near where you live they are likely to offer you a few moments, usually without charge, to assess whether acupuncture may be able to help based on a close look at what has happened. We have certainly treated people with fractures of this kind, and some do respond well. However, each person is different, and while the fractures in several people can be almost identical the context against they have happened, i.e. someone's overall health, may have a considerable impact on the potential for healing. This is why a face to face assessment is the only realistic way of telling what may work.

Treatment would certainly do no harm, though.