Massage Helpful for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Watch our video on how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome

With the increased usage of the personal computer, carpal tunnel syndrome has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive strain industry that results in mild numbness, clumsiness, burning, tingling (pins and needles) and pain in the thumb and first three fingers. In severe cases, the pain may radiate to the arm and even the shoulder.

In carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), the median nerve, which controls the thumb muscles and sensation in the thumb, palm and first three fingers, is compressed or injured from swelling, pressure from bone spurs, diabetes, dislocation or fracture, arthritis, tendonitis, and repetitive, continuous, rapid motion of the fingers. For the latter cause, CTS is first treated by resting from the repetitive action. If symptoms improve, modifications can be made such as using an ergonomically designed keyboard or rotating tasks so the length of time spent at the repetitive action is minimized and alternated with other motion.

Physicians often prescribe anti-inflammatories and pain medications. As well, surgery is sometimes suggested, though it is now thought that many CTS surgeries have been unnecessary and one should always seek a second opinion before going to the extreme of surgery. Splints and braces sometimes benefit people with CTS.

A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine indicates that there is an alternative to drugs or surgery when treating CTS. The study concluded that massage therapy, both general massage (GM) and targeted massage (TM) for CTS, might be a conservative approach to treating CTS. There was improvement shown for both groups (GM and TM), but improvement in grip strength was only noted in targeted massage (TM).1

If carpal tunnel syndrome is interfering with your ability to work or do the things you love, please call our office for an appointment.

Moraska A, Chandler C, Edmiston-Schaetzel A, Franklin G, Calenda EL, Enebo B. Comparison of a targeted and general massage protocol on strength, function, and symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome: a randomized pilot study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2008;14(3):259-267.