Carpal tunnel syndrome: causes, symptoms, and massage therapy

 

 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very debilitating issue to suffer through and has a devastating effect on your daily life.  A person is more likely to develop this syndrome by repetitive movements like typing, hairstyling, massage therapy, automotive work, heavy machine operations, welders, surgeons and many more.  It is characterized by numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers, pain, burning sensations, possible pain in the elbow, weak grip, difficulty/reduced finger dexterity, difficulty making a fist, and possibly feeling like the fingers are swollen.

To better understand this pathology, you must understand what the carpal tunnel is and why it develops.  The carpal tunnel is a tunnel comprised of a broad ligament connecting the pisiform and the trapezium (the two outermost carpal bones of the wrist).  Running through this tunnel are all the tendons of the hand as well as the median and ulnar nerves.  Carpal tunnel syndrome is basically a form of tendonitis.  The tendons swell and put pressure on the nerves leading to the fingers thereby causing the above-mentioned symptoms.

In the past, massage therapy has been viewed as a treat to get relaxed, rather than its treatment for a long list of bodily ailments.  How does the relaxation occur?  How does your body feel when you leave?  The answer is a combination of the calming effects on the nervous system and the positive impact on the muscular system.  Your body is more relaxed due to the elongation of the muscles and increased mobility/flexibility.  With each massage, the muscles become more elongated taking pressure off the ligaments and tendons while easing tension and relaxing the body.  As awareness in the medical community of the biological and chemical effects increases, massage therapy is now recognized as a viable form of natural healthcare.

However, the most commonly known and most prescribed treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome still involve wrist braces, surgery, physical therapy, as well as a compilation of medications.  As it may still be the least known treatment for those who suffer from this ailment, massage is less invasive than surgery and corrects the cause of the syndrome.  As stated, carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of tendonitis and just like with any other area of the body it can be corrected by alternative means.  The muscles that work the fingers stop in the forearm and the connecting tendons are what move the fingers.  The muscles can get overly tight, but we must continue using our fingers for our everyday lives.  With this continued use, the tendons running through the carpal tunnel get inflamed and begin to swell.  As they swell, they press on the nerves causing the numbness, tingling, and other symptoms associated with this syndrome.

A regular treatment program of massage therapy on the forearms will loosen the muscles thereby relieving the strain on the tendons.  Over the course of treatment, the swelling will reduce, and the tendons won’t be pressing on the nerves.  Once the symptoms are gone, maintenance is recommended to keep the muscles loose as you will still be doing the activities that caused the inflammation.

 

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