Massage Therapy and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed within the carpal tunnel as it passes through the wrist. It may result in numbness and tingling to the middle, index and half of the thumb. Most commonly the symptoms include weakness or “clumsy” fingers and thumbs, also awakening at night, due to pain. Causes include repetitive flexing and extending of the wrist (this may lead to swelling within the wrist and thickening of the forearm tendons), a dislocated carpal bone, sleeping positions, pregnancy and diabetes are also common causes. Once the underlying cause of the CTS is determined by easy testing and patient’s reports of symptoms, the proper course of treatment will be provided.
Common treatments for CTS include night splints, cortisone injections, and surgery to the affected medial nerve. These treatments may temporarily decrease pain, however the cause of the CTS may not be fully addressed. A reoccurrence may be unavoidable once the injection has worn off or if the surgery to Median nerve was not the cause of the syndrome, and deemed unnecessary after all.
Massage Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is reported to be quite helpful when the cause is overuse (flexing and extending), due to poor working ergonomics and prior injuries. The treatment itself focuses on increasing the circulation to the affected muscles of the forearm, prolonged passive stretching and removing the muscular tension from the wrist and forearm. The techniques used may be painful and often results a sensation of bruising in the days following treatment, however the feedback includes increased freedom in movement, less pain and tingling within the first 24 hrs. Be sure to ask about small
improvements to your work station ergonomics, which can be helpful in avoiding the syndrome or preventing a flare up. Other at home instructions may be provided to enhance the circulation and decrease the muscular tension within the wrist and forearm.