Carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS is caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs the length of your arm, goes through a passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel and ends in the hand. The median controls the movement and feeling of the thumb and also the movement of all fingers except the pinky. The carpal tunnel is narrowed as a result, usually from swelling.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include: burning, tingling, itching numbness in the palm of the hand and thumb or index and middle fingers. Fingers may also “fall asleep” and become numb at night- usually happens in the evening because of the relaxed position of your hand and while sleeping. In the morning, you may wake up with numbness and tingling in your hands that may run all the way to your shoulder.
In more severe cases, you may have less grip strength because the muscles in your hand shrink. Pain and muscle cramping will also become worse. The median nerve begins to lose function because of the irritation or pressure around it. This leads to: slower nerve impulses, loss of feeling in the fingers and a loss of strength and coordination, especially the ability to use your thumb to pinch. You could end up with permanent muscle damage and lose function in your hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can happen, due to:
- Repetitive motions- typing
- Certain jobs- assembly line worker, sewer or knitter, baker, cashier, hair stylist or musician
- Conditions- hypothyroidism, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes
Massage therapy will help those who have carpal tunnel syndrome by breaking down the scar tissue and adhesions in the muscles of the wrist and forearm, caused by trauma or overuse. Restoring the affecting muscles to full elasticity allows the wrist to move more freely, as it is supposed to, easing friction on the inflamed areas. Massaging and stretching the tendons and ligaments of the wrist directly further aids recovery by relieving the pressure these tendons and ligaments are putting on the median nerve is causing the pain and tingling. Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms will not disappear after one massage treatment but they can approve significantly and continue to improve with further treatment. Massage therapists can also teach you specific stretches for the hands and forearms to relieve symptoms and help you remain symptom-free.
Osteopathic manipulative treatment done by a manual osteopath may be used to stretch soft tissues, release tissue adhesions, eliminate restricted motion of carpal and metacarpal bones, increase the length of the TCL to enlarge the carpal tunnel and lower intratunnel pressure transmitted to the median nerve, increase range of motion, strengthen muscles and reduce edema. Manual osteopathy can help control and heal many of the symptoms from carpal tunnel syndrome as well as reduce pressure on the nerve through direct treatment to the wrist and also treatment to the elbow, shoulder, neck and general body. Every patient may respond differently to treatment, but most have overall more mobility and improved nerve conduction because of reduced pressure on the median nerve.
Acupuncture may help by rewiring the primary somatosensory cortex in the brain of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. The needle punctures at the pain point may cause the body to send extra blood to that spot, much like what happens during bruising- the additional blood may help damaged nerves to heal. It also helps to relieve symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome such as numbness and tingling. Acupuncture can reduce pain, increase mobility, help clear the inflammation and swelling. It can also work as a complementary treatment if you do need surgery, as acupuncture can speed up your recovery process.
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from occurring it is recommended to move as much as you can at work. Avoid maintaining the exact same position for more than 45 minutes at a time. Keep warm. Often, people who frequently have cold hands are more prone to developing carpal tunnel syndrome. You need to keep your circulation strong. Try to use each hand evenly. Don’t let one overcompensate for the other. Maintain correct posture at your desk. The longer you sit in one position in front of a computer, the more you’re likely to slouch. Slouching puts strain on the neck and shoulders, which in turn affects your wrists and hands. If you’re working on a keyboard, try to keep your forearms level with the keyboard. Avoid bending your wrists for longs periods of time.
If you are in need of our services to help with carpal tunnel syndrome, then please contact Ultimate Health Clinic at (905) 251-0162 to let us help you.