MASSAGE FOR CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
WHAT IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve which runs down the arm, through a passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel and ends in the hand. Symptoms include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand, specifically the thumb and all fingers except for the pinky. The pressure on the nerve is usually caused by swelling around the carpal tunnel due to overuse.
OVERUSE OF THE ARMS AND HANDS
Sometimes, one can have symptoms that seem to indicate carpal tunnel syndrome, but can just be tightness of the hands and forearms. These days with extended computer and smartphone use, our hands and forearms get a lot of use. When the muscles get tight, or if they swell from overuse, there can be similar symptoms to carpal tunnel syndrome.
MASSAGE THERAPY FOR CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Whether symptoms are caused by true carpal tunnel swelling or simply muscle tightness, massage therapy can be beneficial. Massage will help with the swelling which can alleviate the symptoms. It will also help with muscle tightness that may be pressing on the median nerve, so massage will relax the muscles of the hand and forearm. There are also Active Isolated Stretching techniques and kinesiology taping methods that can be done to help with the swelling and tightness as well. If the wrist, hand and elbow joints are moving better then there is less of a chance of injury to the area as well.
OTHER PREVENTATIVE MEASURES AND TREATMENT
Besides utilizing massage therapy to keep the muscles of the forearm and hand from getting injured, there are other things you can do.
1. Get an ergonomic set up at your computer. While this won’t prevent overuse, if on a computer all day, it can definitely make it a bit more comfortable and reduce risk of injury if combined with self care techniques.
2. Use 2 hands to hold your phone and when you are typing. Smartphones are heavier and bigger these days and can put strain on the muscles, so using 2 hands will give you more support in the area.
3. Wear a splint at night if you are experiencing any numbness or tingling at night. This helps to keep the wrist in a neutral position and can alleviate any compression due to sleep positions.
4. Alternating heat and ice for increased circulation. This technique called contrast bathing has one use heat for 10 minutes, then ice for 10 minutes, then back to heat, etc, etc. This method can increase circulation and help with any present swelling.
Sometimes, surgery is suggested for carpal tunnel syndrome, however it is easy enough to give these non invasive treatments and self care techniques a try before jumping into surgery. If you are experiencing continuing pain, numbness and tingling however, it is best to seek out medical treatment asap to avoid any nerve damage. But in my 15 years as a massage therapist and almost 20 years working in Physical Medicine, I have seen many people who were close to considering surgery get dramatic results just by performing the techniques and treatments above, combined with soft tissue work, so it is worth a try!
Learn more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/
Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/2899/massage-carpal-tunnel-syndrome
AIS Stretching Video for Hand, Wrist and Forearm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXEb0Q6WOKQ
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