Essence & Qi Blog
Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a wrist pain that has gained a prominence in the lexicon of computer users. The pain is caused by the compression of the nerve at the wrist and is associated with motor deficit of the thenar muscles. Computer users who use a mouse quite often suffer from this syndrome because of long hours of moving the mouse over a pad with slight movement of the wrists and hands. The problem is due to the fact that the median nerve is a soft tissue that shares space with nine other flexor tendons that go through the carpal tunnel. Due to the constant use of the median nerve with small and constant movements, the nerve tends to get inflamed and the restricted space within the tunnel causes its inflammation to further compress the nerve and cause the pain associated with this syndrome.
Patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome will complain of numbness, pain or motor deficit, and neglect of this can even lead to sensory or motor loss. Electro-neuropathy can measure the slowing down of conductivity across the wrist segment and this can lead to the correct diagnosis as to whether the condition is moderate, severe or has been caught at an early stage. Surgery is recommended only for severe conditions where motor loss is extreme. Most other conditions can be treated with massage and massage therapy. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also affect pregnant women due to edema pressures and they are normally recommended anti inflammatory drugs for relief.
The carpal tunnel syndrome is easily and permanently solved by surgery, which increases the space for the nerve to function, but is an invasive approach that can cause the dreaded down time so abhorred by computer users. So the less invasive approach of massage therapy can bring about almost similar results if the sufferer shows patience while undergoing the therapy.
Any massage therapy that is used for alleviating pain does so by relieving the pressure on the nerve and increasing the micro-vascular blood supply to the nerves so that the pain is lessened. The massage therapy is affected by frequent massage of the hand, the anterior musculature, the forearm flexors and the wrist. Sufferers are also shown how to conduct self-massage between treatments so that the pain is significantly reduced. Sometimes the pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the nerve getting constricted in the spinal area, so quite often massage therapy is also broadened to include the shoulder and upper back so that the therapy becomes more effective. The therapist would use long strokes that go up the flexors that are there on the forearm and use a range of motion exercises for the wrist. These passive exercises further loosen the median nerve and alleviate the pain. The therapy includes stretching of the forearm flexors by extension of the hand, fingers, wrist and elbow while at the same time massaging the entire arm with long gliding strokes.
Massage therapists may also recommend the use of biomechanical devices that relieve the pressure and promote hand postures that are beneficial and cause no pressure on the tendons. They would also suggest methods to relieve the inflammation, remove local toxins and soothe the muscles whose irritation has caused the carpal tunnel syndrome.