- Karen Stoner, LMT
About My Aches: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is it?
There is a large nerve that runs down the inside of the forearm, through the wrist, and into the hand called the Median Nerve. This nerve can become trapped or pinched between the the bones in the wrist (the carpal bones) and under a thick tendon called the Transverse Carpal Ligament that stretches across the bottom of the hand and across the wrist.
What does it feel like?
It can feel like pain, weakness, tingling, burning, or numbness in the wrists, hands or fingers, and can radiate all the way up the arm. Pain can happen while using the hands, or can go numb and tingling while sleeping.
What causes it?
The nerve can get trapped and pinched for a number of reasons. The most common cause is overuse of the hands/wrists along with poor ergonomics and posture. It can also occur during pregnancy because of the way the body shape and skeleton changes, plus the increase in fluids and hormones. Genetics can also play a part due to shape and size of the wrist bones.
Can Massage help?
Massage can cause some relief by helping to loosen some of the tight tendons in the wrists and forearms, and even up to the neck and shoulders, where the nerves in the hands originate. If any massage work causes pain or more pain, it should be discontinued - this is not a "no pain, no gain" type of treatment. Stretching may also be used during a massage treatment to help.
What can I do on my own?
Ice can help with the inflammation. Rolling the wrists on a frozen plastic water bottle helps greatly because the ice helps calm the inflammation and the ridges of the water bottle helps massage the area. Gentle stretches can help keep the wrists flexible and healthy while keeping the nerve and surrounding ligaments loose and open. Doctors will usually recommend anti-inflammatory medicines. Rest will also go a long way towards helping the condition calm down. Wearing splints or wrist braces while working or sleeping can often help the wrists stay straight and allow the nerve to stay in the right place without getting irritated. In last-case scenarios, doctors may recommend surgery to free up the trapped nerve. Acupuncture, Kinesiology Taping, and Chiropractic work can also help carpal tunnel issues.