When you think of massage therapy, what comes to mind? Perhaps you consider those aches and pains in your shoulders and neck, or maybe your sore, tired, or swollen legs, or even a way you can cope with excess stress.
However, the therapeutic nature of massage therapy extends far beyond just relieving stiff muscles or alleviating stress and anxiety.
You can actually ease the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome with massage therapy.
So what exactly is carpal tunnel syndrome? Why do certain people develop carpal tunnel syndrome? And how does massage therapy improve your life if you are dealing with the pain and discomfort of carpal tunnel?
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a fairly common condition that affects the hand and wrist. It causes pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. This happens when there is an increase in pressure in the wrist, which compresses a nerve known as the median nerve, which runs through the wrist.
This median nerve is what allows your thumb, middle finger, index finger and even part of your ring finger to sense things and receive impulses from the brain and nervous system. While it does not affect your small “pinky” finger, carpal tunnel syndrome impacts much of the hand, and beyond the pain and discomfort it causes, it can impact your work and personal life too.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects as many as 10 million Americans, and while it’s very treatable, many suggested remedies include surgery, painkillers and splints, which are temporary fixes and highly invasive or mask the problem rather than dealing with it.
With carpal tunnel syndrome, not only do you lose range of mobility, but as a result of the pain and stiffness, muscles in the hand and thumb begin to atrophy, and basic skills become harder and harder to accomplish.
What Is the Carpal Tunnel?
Your carpal tunnel is a small pathway through which the median nerve and several tendons run from your wrist to your hand. It helps connect the hand to the forearm. Think of it as a railway tunnel, and the median nerve and tendons are the train tracks that run through it. When the tunnel is compressed or experiences pressure, it can affect the railroad tracks that run through it.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are a few other, similar conditions that may be confused with carpal tunnel syndrome. So how do you know if it’s actually carpal tunnel syndrome? Here are a few signs to watch for:
- Hand and wrist pain
- A burning sensation located in the middle and index fingers
- Numbness in the thumb and fingers
- A sensation like an electric shock that runs through the wrist and hand
- Insensitivity to heat and cold
Who Is at Risk of Developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There is a common misconception that only factory workers who perform repetitive motions for hours each day or office workers who spend hours typing at their desks can get carpal tunnel.
The truth? It can affect anyone who uses their hand or wrist over and over again in the same way and can be caused by work or play. In fact, you can develop carpal tunnel syndrome from playing video games.
So who is at a higher risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
- Women are three times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than men, probably because their carpal tunnels are narrower.
- People with diabetes or other metabolic disorders that affect the body’s nerves have more likelihood of compression.
- Adults over the age of 20 also are at higher risk.
Other important things to know? It is especially common in people who work with their hands: those performing assembly line work (because of the repetitive nature of the work), those in the manufacturing business, those who sew or spend a lot of time with tools like hammers or wrenches, and those in the meat, fish and poultry packing business.
How Massage Therapy Can Help
Carpal tunnel syndrome can require many different kinds of treatment, including surgery, to address the pain and numbness. Massage therapy is a highly effective method for dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome. There is a significant, measurable change in symptoms and severity for those who received massage therapy for their carpal tunnel syndrome.
And it’s non-invasive and cost-effective and will get you back to work (or play) in no time.
Through our work together in massage therapy sessions, I can apply techniques to help break down any existing scar tissue, release compression in your carpal tunnel and median nerve, and restore elasticity and strength to your wrist, fingers and hand.
Massage therapy sessions also can work to reduce friction in areas that are inflamed—areas with chronic compression or pain.
My work is focused on alleviating these issues that come along with carpal tunnel syndrome. Massage therapy is there to lessen your symptoms, ease your pain and increase your grip strength all at once, without surgery or painkillers.
Don’t let your issues with carpal tunnel stand between you and the rest of your life. Let me help you discover a non-invasive, therapeutic approach to lifting your carpal tunnel-related pain, discomfort and numbness.