Desk Work And Carpal Tunnel
One of the largest complaints we hear from our corporate massage clients is that their hands and wrist hurt, or they have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. Working at a desk and using your hands and wrist to type, use a mouse, or any other repetitive movements that you would make predominately with your hands may cause carpal tunnel to occur.
How Tendons Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
To better understand what carpal tunnel syndrome is, its important to know it all starts with damage to your wrist tendons. Its easy to understand what goes on using a simple model .
Normally tendons glide effortlessly inside their sheath. Its like a pencil gliding inside a plastic tube. Now think of the tendons microscopic surface as smooth and clean, like the pencil. A normal tendon will then slide back and forth effortlessly inside the tube. However, with stressed tendons something else happens.
Tendons are made of microscopic strands of collagen. Thats what creates their smooth surface. But tendons are also under a lot of mechanical stress. When you overwork your hands, tiny rips occur on some of these collagen strands. With more stress, even more collagen strands rip. Much like what happens when fabric pulls out of a shirt, the collagen retracts and then curls up on the surface.
With enough tiny rips and collagen bumps, the tendons surface is no longer smooth. As a result, the tendon doesnt glide smoothly anymore .
The body senses the ripped collagen pieces and tries to repair each strand. In the pencil model, the body tries to fix and flatten the bumps on the pencil.
But the current theory with carpal tunnel syndrome says theres a malfunction in how the collagen is repaired. Its as if the body cannot flatten out the collagen bumps properly. Thus, they continue to stand out and inhibit smooth gliding.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The symptoms of CTS are caused by compression of the Median nerve as it passes into the hand. The Median nerve is located on the palm side of your hand, also called the carpal tunnel, and provides sensation to your thumb, index finger, long finger, and part of the ring finger. It also supplies nerve signals to the muscle going to the thumb.
Carpal tunnel syndrome in working adults in primarily caused by overextension of the wrist and hand. Repeated motion of your wrist contributes to swelling and compression of the Median nerve. CTS is responsible for 32.5% of repetitive motion injuries at the workplace, with common workplace causes of CTS including:
- Positioning of your wrists while using your keyboard or mouse
- Prolonged exposure to vibrations from using hand tools or power tools
- Any repeated movement that overextends your wrist, such as typing
CTS is also associated with medical conditions such as:
- Fluid retention from pregnancy or menopause
- High blood pressure
- Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Fractures or trauma to the wrist
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Massage Therapy For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Massage therapy can be of great benefit for people dealing with painand carpal tunnel syndrome is of no difference.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Simply put, carpal tunnel syndrome is the inflammation or entrapment of nerves within the carpal tunnel of the anterior wrist, which can cause pain and numbness. Most of my clients see me presenting with the classic symptoms, explains Richard Garcia, a massage therapist in private practice in Peyton, Colorado. These symptoms include numbness and tingling in the hand, difficulty grasping or carrying objects and, sometimes, hand pain. Some clients, too, report the pain is worse in the evening, and sleep can be interrupted. The causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are often associated with repetitive motion, such as working at a computer all day, for example, though other factors can come into play as well.
How To Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome With Massage Therapy
Many people first think of shoulders, necks and backs when hear the words “massage therapy,” but this therapeutic treatment has many other applications. One little-known use? Relieving the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Let’s take a closer look at this condition, along with how massage therapy can help improve the lives of people living with this painful progressive condition.
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Can Carpal Tunnel Massage Make Symptoms Worse
Carpal tunnel massage therapy using myofascial release can only help not harm carpal tunnel patients. In fact, this treatment is themost oftenused remedy by therapists for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s safety is also a main reason the therapy is used duringpregnancy.
Additionally, myofascial release massage is beneficial for many other tissues where adhesions are a problem.
Often, such adhesions cause weakness and pain. For example,muscular adhesionsare well known to occur in athletes. Tennis players usually develop adhesions that result intennis elbow.Muscular adhesions also occur with the constant pounding of leg muscles in runners and joggers. In addition,hypoxiaand trauma are well-known contributors to adhesions in various tissues. In any situation where adhesions occur, myofascial release massage therapy is the indicated treatment of choice.
The only situation where myofascial release massage cannot be used is when the skin is compromised. This happens when skin is burned, bruised or exhibits an infection or diseases. Also, cuts, abrasions, sunburn, inflammation, varicose veins or undiagnosed lumps should resolve before you haveanytype of massage.
Benefits Of Carpal Tunnel Massage Therapy
Massage helps manage carpal tunnel symptoms by breaking down scar tissue in the carpal ligament in the hands and wrist. Over time, this can heal elasticity and reduce friction of the affected muscles, letting it move smoothly through the carpal tunnel. Direct massage to wrist tendons can help relieve pressure on the median nerve to relieve chronic pain and tingling.
- Increases flexibility
- Speeds recovery
- Improved grip strength and hand function
Massage is a long-term solution that takes more than one treatment for symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome to improve.
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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Is All About Tendon Swelling
As tendons stress, they get damaged and repaired. The body senses theres injury happening. Under such conditions, the body has a natural defense against further harm calledinflammation.Therefore, the rip and repair cycle that goes on between the tendon and sheath is the reason for tendon inflammation and swelling.
Normally, inflammation is a good thing. It means the body is diverting blood to the concerned area in order to provide nutrients. Its also carrying away broken and damaged cell components from the area.
Inflammation and swelling also makes the region tender or painful to the touch. Thats so that you leave it alone while it heals.
But the problem in carpal tunnel syndrome is that the inflammation and swelling happens inside a very confined space. This space is called the carpal tunnel . Its actually a passageway formed mostly by a cradle of wrist bones. The roof of the passageway is formed by a tough ligament .
Its important to understand that the tunnel is rigid and does not stretch apart or expand. In fact, the ligament is what a surgeon cuts during carpal tunnel release surgeryto relieve the swelling pressure underneath.
Why Does Massage Therapy Work
The responses to massage therapy are complex and multifactorial – physiological and psychological factors interplay in a complex manner. Research has looked at the bioplastic and neuroimmune responses at both the peripheral and central levels elicited by massage therapy treatments.
Pain ManagementMassage has a modulatory affect on peripheral and central processes via input from large sensory neurons that prevents the spinal cord from amplifying the nociceptive signal. This anti-nociceptive effect of massage therapy can help ease discomfort in patients who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome .
Peripheral ResponseMassage therapy may diminish intraneural edema and/or pressure by mobilizing neural tubes . The median nerve passes through many structures and it may be exposed to mechanical irritation at many different points . Prolonged irritation may result in a reduction of intraneural blood flow. In turn, local hypoxia of a peripheral nerve leads to a drop in tissue pH that triggers the release of inflammatory mediators, known as inflammatory soup, this noxious substance can disrupt the normal function of nerves .
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How Carpal Tunnel Massage Works
There’s one question patients always ask me about carpal tunnel massage:Does it really work?The resounding answer is “Yes, but you must use theright kindof massage.”
Doctors and therapists know massage therapy will help patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. But not just any old massage can be used. It must a treatment known asmyofascial release massage.
I’ll explain how this massage works below. Then you’ll see that it not only helps relievecarpal tunnel symptomsbut it’s the best way to get rid of this condition permanently.
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Do You Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Do you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? This pain pattern can cause loss of grip strength in your hand or electrical pain in your wrist & hand. This repetitive stress injury is often caused from inflammation of the median nerve under the carpal tunnel . But did you know that the origin of this pain could be from an impingement pattern in your neck & chest called thoracic outlet syndrome.
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Voltaren Gel For Use In Treatment Of Scar Tissue
I had carpal tunnel release surgery 3rd wk in Nov. 2013. I wanted to know if I can use the Voltaren gel at the surgery site to help relieve discomfort and break down scar tissue under the skin. I was prescribed this gel to deeply massage into the scarred tissue on my other hand for the same surgery I had done 1 1/2 yrs ago.
Added 26 Dec 2013:
As far as the scar tissue goes, my concern is for the hard lump under the skin. The scar on top of the skin doesnât bother me in the least and is hardly noticeable at all
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Instructions For After Surgery
Elevation of the hand is very important after any surgery or injury to the hand. The hand should be kept at a level that is higher than your heart in order to cause fluid to drain from the hand. This is very important to prevent swelling. A swollen hand will be painful, and a swollen hand will also become stiff. It is important to make a full fist and fully straighten your fingers ten times an hour after any hand surgery or injury that does not involve a tendon repair. This motion will pump the fluid out of the fingers and thereby prevent swelling.
Do not change the bandages or splint after surgery until the first post operative visit with Dr. Miller. The bandages must also be kept dry. Showering should be done with a large plastic bag over the hand and arm, securely taped just below the shoulder. By keeping the hand fully elevated, it is possible to take a brief shower without getting the bandages wet.
After an operation that has been done under a local anesthetic, or local anesthetic with sedation, it is common to experience numbness and tingling in the hand for eight to ten hours or longer. A prescription for a pain reliever will be given to you after the surgery and we recommend that you fill the prescription, although frequently only one or two pills will be necessary. The most important aspect of pain relief after hand surgery is strict elevation of the hand.
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How Myofascial Release Massage Releases Tendons
In the simplest form of carpal tunnel massage using myofascial release, the therapist uses TWO thumbs simultaneously.
First, they press both thumbs deep into the tissue. Then they rotate their thumbs in counter-rotating directions over the tissue. At the same time, the rotations move from side to side. Doing so provides a shearing force to the tissues below .
The result of this motion is that tendons and their sheaths move in opposing directions. Therapists describe this as a kneading motion. In effect, the motion pulls at the adhesions in three dimensions. Doing so insures the adhesions break apart.
As explained above, the ripped collagen encourages the body to replace the damaged, improper collagen with “correct” collagen.
In time, the rip and repair cycle fades because the body properly repairs the damaged collagen.
This collagen replacement is a key factor in healing. And carpal tunnel massage using myofascial release is the quickest and most efficient way to achieve healing. However, you can also do so with prolonged rest. But that takes months.
In fact, for rest to be successful, you cannot use your fingers and hands even for minor tasks. In other words, you would need to refrain from anything more than slight moments. And you would have to refrain for two months for complete success. For most people thats nearly impossible.
Massage Therapy And Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects many people. Carpal tunnel is a narrow canal located where the forearm meets the wrist on the palm side of the hand. The canal contains tendons and one nerve the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs the tendons get inflamed and thereby compress the median nerve. The condition has many causes, such as repetitive hand movements, illnesses, pregnancy, obesity and even poor posture. Symptoms include tingling, numbness and pain. In this article, we will take a closer look at how massage therapy can be used to successfully alleviate some of the pain and discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Typical treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include wrist splints, surgery and manual therapy. Massage therapy work includes stretching and lengthening the forearm muscles and fascia. Massage therapy was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome typically includes forearm, wrist and hand massage. Once the forearm muscles are softened and lengthened, the inflammation can recede, reducing or eliminating the pain and numbness. Massage therapy is the most effective, cost-efficient, and non-invasive way to deal with carpal tunnel syndrome.
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How To Do Massage Therapy For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome At Home
Are you willing to know about the steps for doing massage therapy at home to reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome? Well! Your massage therapist would explain about these once you visit him or her for treatment or consultation. However, here below we have tried to explain some of the simplest ways for doing massage in carpal tunnel.
Start The Therapy for CTS By a Light Massage: The massage therapy must start and end with a light massage of the muscles in your shoulder, arms, wrist, fingers and hand.
- Starting from your shoulders, apply light and gentle strokes and move down till the wrist and the fingers in your hand. Make sure not to apply hard pressure.Use your palm, thumb and finger for massaging.
- You can make use of any massage oil here.
- Do this for about half a minute and allow the muscles to get prepared for a deeper pressure friction massage in the next step.
A Deeper Pressure Friction Massage to Get Relief From Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Friction technique assists in relieving pain by accelerating the return flow of the venous and lymphatic drainage. So, you need to go for a deeper pressure friction massage next.
A Kneading Massage for Relief From Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: You need to knead you. In order to improve the muscle tonicity and elasticity and reduce the symptoms in carpal tunnel syndrome, a kneading massage is essential.
Treatments For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A lot of doctors recommend surgery, which should always be the very last resort. Common treatments also include the use of anti-inflammatories and cortisone injections. Then there are passive carpal tunnel treatments like taking more frequent breaks when using your wrist, or applying cold compresses to help reduce swelling in the area.
The good news is that Carpal tunnel, Arthritis and Fibromyalgia conditions can all be successfully treated with Remedial Massage. A massage therapist can relax and loosen the muscles and tissues in your hands and wrists, providing relaxation for joints and relieving the pressure.
Massage can not only help you feel better massaging carpal tunnel can also provide other fringe benefits as well.
A 2010 study by the University of Miami School of Medicine showed that regular remedial massage therapy can not only improve CTS symptoms, but also improve the strength of your grip! Researchers also discovered patients with hand problems wound up sleeping better as a result of the massage therapy.
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Wrist Flexion & Stretch
After having carpal tunnel release surgery, you can experience a build-up of scar tissue that can affect the way your hands and wrists function. This exercise can help to break up the scar tissue and open up the tunnel in your wrist.
- Extend your arm out in front of your, with your wrist flexed at a 90-degree angle.
- Using your other hand, gently pull your wrist back by your fingers.
- Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds, repeating 5 times.
Stretching Wrist Flexor Muscles And Forearm To Get Relief From Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Or Cts:
- For doing this, you first need to bring your arms right in front of you, keeping your palm facing up.
- In this position, bring one hand down so that your fingers of the hand on which you are working upon faces towards the floor.
- Hold this stretch for at least half a minute and then repeat the same with the other hand.
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