Brought on by a pinched nerve in the dominant wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome is a hand and arm condition that causes several symptoms such as tingling and numbness. Individuals who are more susceptible to carpal tunnel include women, adults, diabetes sufferers, and those who perform assembly line work. Here’s how massage therapy can help:
Carpal tunnel syndrome is painful, persistent and sharp, but a massage therapist can help you reduce the pain you feel in your hands and wrists. By reducing the tension, getting blood flowing properly and gently working on the most sensitive parts of your hands, your sharp pain should start to dissipate within two or three sessions. Massage therapists use a variety of techniques to alleviate carpal tunnel pain. Typically, this process begins with gentle hand massages, which some sufferers find unbearable at first. It can take several sessions with a trained therapist before you start to feel comfortable having someone massage the most painful part of your body. While carpal tunnel affects your hands and wrists, it’s very common to have alignment problems and soreness in the shoulders, neck, and back. A massage therapist will typically treat these parts of your body as well. If your hands and wrists are too painful at first, your massage therapist will skip to the other parts of your body and attempt to work on your hands in the next session.
As with many types of chronic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome is felt in one place of the body, but it’s partly caused by something in another. Poor posture will directly affect your symptoms. If you sit at a work desk with your shoulders, back and arms improperly aligned, your wrists will not be aligned either. By working to improve your posture, your massage therapist will help train your body to sit upright, allowing your wrists to stay at the correct angle when working with a mouse and keyboard.
Train Your Body
When you visit a massage therapist to treat an ailment like carpal tunnel, he or she will draft up a plan for not only what will be covered in your weekly massage sessions, but also, what you should be doing between sessions. Exercise is a key element to retraining your body. Your massage therapist may recommend a holistic approach to reduce the pain, which may include different types of massage, exercises, and yoga. These exercises will also encourage your body to maintain a healthy posture. Your massage therapist will also look at the behavior that led to carpal tunnel syndrome. Computer keyboards are one of the common causes of carpal tunnel injuries, but they are not the only problem. Musicians often find that they are holding their instruments incorrectly, and have to relearn to play a slightly different way. Cashiers at retail stores perform the same hand movements for each customer, hundreds of times a day. Gardeners who spend all day doting over their plants often find that they are using their tools incorrectly. Workers on assembly lines are especially vulnerable to carpal tunnel syndrome, as they perform the same tasks every day for months at a time. It could also be a combination of behaviors. Your massage therapist will help you look at all the activities that might be causing carpal tunnel pain, and will recommend ways to change them.
Expands your blood vessels
Massage therapists often use a technique called hot stone massage to treat carpal tunnel. In a hot stone massage, smooth, heated stones are placed on the affected parts of the body and used along with traditional massage. The hot stones help to expand blood vessels under your skin, which helps increase blood flow. When used on the hands and wrists of a carpal tunnel syndrome sufferer, hot stone massage can dramatically reduce the pain and keep carpal tunnel symptoms from returning.
Eliminates/reduces medication amounts
A traditional doctor will typically prescribe painkillers, such as high-dose Ibuprofen as well as muscle relaxers like Flexeril. These drugs will temporarily reduce inflammation and pain, but do not address the core problems causing carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, it is not safe to drive a car, ride a bike, carry a child, or do many other activities while taking muscle relaxers. Both types of drugs can cause additional symptoms such as constipation, heart problems, nausea, and more. By using massage therapy to address the cause of your carpal tunnel syndrome problem, you may remove the need to take potentially harmful medications on a daily basis. Any change in medication should always be done under the close supervision of your primary caregiver.