How can massage therapy treat carpal tunnel syndrome?
From our info page on carpal tunnel syndrome, you will have learned that it is caused by compression of the median nerve in your wrist. Surgery can effectively relieve pressure by cutting through the transverse carpal ligament in your wrist, and the procedure is usually done under local anaesthetic only. However, your pain and numbness may still take months to subside, and you will be asked to rest from work for at least 7 to 14 days after surgery. Six to twelve weeks of recovery time is recommended for full recovery, and you may also be asked to undergo physical therapy.
While surgery may provide you with great relief from your symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, less invasive approaches such as massage therapy may be worth trying beforehand. While surgery would focus on the carpal tunnel itself, massage therapy would more than likely take place on your hand, wrist, and muscles of your forearm. Since it is also possible that you have nerve constriction where the nerve leaves your spinal area (thoracic outlet syndrome), your massage therapist may also include massage of your neck, shoulder and upper back.
Using massage therapy to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, you should experience a reduction in pain and numbness after a few treatments, and full restoration of function within a few months. Your massage therapist will also show you how to stretch your forearm muscles, and can also show you how to self-massage the area at home and can also suggest certain ways to aid in recovery, such as wrist splints or braces, and ergonomic devices.
By Richard Lobbenberg, BSc BHSc DAc
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