What do you do if your doctor tells you that you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)? While highly effective, massage for Carpal Tunnel is often not brought up by conventional doctors. Symptoms of CTS include numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and fingers as well as pain that can radiate up the forearm. The pain is caused by constant pressure on the median nerve – the main nerve to the hand. The pressure most often results from swelling or thickening of the wrist tendons due to repetitive wrist movements. Poor office ergonomics, turning a wrench or using tools all day, playing an instrument, or sleeping in an awkward position can cause or exacerbate CTS.
Traditional treatments recommended by MDs for Carpal Tunnel have been anti-inflammatory or steroidal medication and splinting the wrist to limit movement. While splinting helps the patient avoid lying awkwardly on the wrists while sleeping, it can actually cause additional swelling during the day, as he or she goes about performing normal daily activities. The medications can have side effects and only last as long as they are taken regularly.
Also, very commonly, patients undergo surgery to sever the swollen carpal ligament, thereby creating space for the median nerve so it is not being constantly compressed. Unfortunately, surgery isn’t the magic bullet for relief of CTS symptoms either – after surgery, some still feel pain, tingling, and numbness. Sometimes, even a successful surgery does not last and once the patient goes back to the work or the hobby they used to enjoy, the condition eventually returns.
An alternative not always considered, is massage. Many patients have had success using massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and are often able to rid themselves of the condition altogether. Massage helps relieve CTS symptoms by breaking down scar tissue and adhesions in the muscles of the wrist and forearm, caused by trauma or overuse. Restoring the affecting muscles to full elasticity allows the wrist to move more freely, as it is supposed to, easing friction on the inflamed areas. Massaging and stretching the tendons and ligaments of the wrist directly further aids recovery by relieving the pressure these tendons and ligaments are putting on the Median nerve that is causing the pain and tingling.
CTS symptoms will not disappear after one massage treatment but they can improve significantly and continue to improve with further treatment. Massage therapists can also teach you specific stretches for the hands and forearms to relieve CTS symptoms and help you remain symptom-free.
If you suspect you may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or another medical condition or are currently being treated for CTS, please consult your physician before beginning any new treatment.