Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a problem that affects hand function and is caused by the compression of the median nerve at the wrist. According to a 2010 survey, carpal tunnel syndrome affects nearly 5 million Americans. Carpal tunnel syndrome does not always have a definitive cause, but it is more common in people who do a lot of repetitive motion with their hands, such as people who do computer work, or some artists and musicians.
The carpal tunnel is formed by the bones, ligaments and tendons that surround the median nerve. The median nerve supplies sensations to the thumb, index, middle and part of the ring finger. This nerve also provides motion to the muscles of the thumb and hand. These are the areas that are most frequently affected by carpal tunnel syndrome. People who suffer from the affliction typically report numbness, tingling, lack of grip and pain.
The prescribed solution for carpal tunnel syndrome is to relieve the pressure being put on the median nerve. This usually means one of three things: stop whatever is causing the pain (repetitive motion, etc.), wear wrist splints or get surgery. Unfortunately, the splints are only a temporary fix and surgery has a failure rate of 57 percent. Additionally, both “solutions” do not actually address the inflammation and irritation to the muscles and tendons surrounding the median nerve. This is where alternative therapies like acupuncture or massage can be very beneficial.
Massage can be beneficial for those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome for multiple reasons. The first of these benefits is decreased pain. Painful joints and the muscles surrounding them tend to be tight and difficult to move. Massage can free up the joints by loosening the muscles that control them. This leads to decreased pain.
Massage therapy also reduces inflammation. When you get a massage, there is an increase of circulation and improved blood flow. When the circulation is improved, the muscles and joints will receive more oxygenated blood more frequently. Increased oxygenation to the cells helps fight off inflammation. And since more blood is flowing, it makes it tougher for inflammation to begin.
Massage therapy addresses the inflammation, pain and possible numbness by softening and lengthening the fascia and muscles of the hand, forearm, wrist, elbow and all the way up the arm to the neck and shoulders. Deep tissue massage or trigger point massage tend to be most effective in treating carpal tunnel syndrome because it breaks up any adhesions that may be present in the affected areas.
With our lives being so heavily impacted by technology that requires us to be on laptops or other devices, the occurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome is only increasing. But if you start to notice pain or numbness in your wrists and hands, adding in regular massage might just keep you out of the surgery suite, while also saving you time and money in the long run. And since regular massage is beneficial anyway, why not start as soon as possible? Your wrists and the rest of your body will thank you for the added attention.