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What is Carpal Tunnel? How can Massage Therapy help?

rmt blog postSince the advent of modern technology, we have been seeing a steady increase in the number of carpal tunnel syndrome cases. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, carpal tunnel is a condition that affects your hand and wrists.  It is often accompanied by numbness, tingling, and eventually weakness in the affected hand.  Tunnel refers to the space in your wrist which is surrounded by your carpal (wrist) bones and by a rigid ligament that links the bones together.  You will also find tendons of your flexor muscles and the median nerve which controls most of the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers.carp

Many individuals that work in office settings or deal with repetitive manual labour have a greater chance of developing carpal tunnel. Bending of the wrist or moving the fingers brings the muscles and tendon into action.  The tendons are encased in a sheath covering which will produce and provide lubrication for the tendon to move freely and smoothly.  With repetitive and excessive use, the lubricating cells in the sheaths will not produce enough lubricant or produce a lower quality lubricant.  Failure in producing such lubrication will cause friction of the tendon and hence inflammation.  This inflammation can put stress on the median nerve and also introduce fibrous tissue that will thicken the tendon covering therefore hindering movement.

Signs and Symptoms

Typical signs and symptoms slowly and gradually occur with tingling, numbness, and weakness in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. Most often people will “shake out” their hands to relieve the symptoms.  However, as the disorder continues, the numbness may become constant.

Certain tasks that have been associated with carpal tunnel include repetitive hand motions, awkward hand positions, strong gripping, mechanical stress on the palm, and vibrations.

Massage and Carpal Tunnel

A typical massage treatment will include goals to improve grip strength, break any adhesions within the flexor muscles of your forearm and hands, increase your range of motion, and most importantly decrease pain. Relaxing the muscles in your forearm will allow the tendons of those muscles to decrease pressure in the tunnel of your hand.  This can be achieved with deep tissue massages to the muscles, fascial manipulation of the muscles and surrounding structures, stretching the forearm muscles and hands, and also performing some joint mobilizations to the wrist and carpal bones.

Make sure to give massage a try and improve your lifestyle. For more information, check out the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety or visit your local family doctor.

By: Jonathan Chang, RMT.

For any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us!


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