The answer is YES! Massage can be quite effective at relieving the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and treating the cause. The prevalence of computers in the workplace has led to more and more people experiencing numbness, tingling, pain and reduced strength in their hands and fingers. Often times the CTS is incorrectly used as a blanket diagnosis for all conditions involving any of these symptoms occurring in the wrist or hand.
Possible Causes for Your Symptoms
True CTS describes a nerve impingement occurring at the base of the hand. There are nine tendons and one nerve (the median nerve) that pass through the carpal tunnel, which is only the size of your index finger. Overuse of muscles in the forearm can cause the tendons to thicken or to become inflamed, resulting in pressure on the median nerve. Manual release of the muscles through massage and proper stretching serves to restore normal muscle function of the forearm and reduce pressure on the median nerve.
There are other common locations in the body where the nerves and blood supply of the arms can become impinged. The same nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel also passes through a muscle in the forearm called the pronator teres muscle. This muscle is used to turn our forearms and hands into the palm down position when you are riding a bike or typing at a computer.
But is it really Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The blood supply to your arm and the brachial plexus, a large network of nerves, can be compressed by muscles in the neck and chest near your collar bone. This condition is called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Poor posture habits, like slouching at a computer, rolling your shoulders inwards, and letting your head drift forward, can cause these muscles to tighten. Shallow breathing into your upper chest during periods of high anxiety can be another contributing factor. Reduced blood flow can cause some of the same symptoms as nerve compression and will also reduce the rate of healing in that area.
A diagnosis of CTS is not a life sentence. There are many ways to reduce your symptoms without getting surgery. Schedule a massage to find out if the cause of your symptoms is muscular. I will empower you in your search for wellness, providing education about the condition and suggestions about what to do at home to supplement your treatments.