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Carpa Tunnel Massage

Can a Carpal Tunnel Massage Reduce Numbness and Pain?

Question:

I’ve been an office assistant for about 12 years now. I really love my job, but my wrists don’t. My doctor recently diagnosed me with carpal tunnel syndrome. I’ve been given splints to wear on my wrists, but they really don’t seem to be helping. If anything, my wrists hurt more with the splints on than with them off. A coworker recently sang the praises of carpal tunnel massage. Could that help reduce my numbness and pain?

Answer:

Massage therapy, specifically deep-tissue massage of your wrists and arms, can relieve pressure on your nerves and increase blood supply to the area, thereby lessening your pain.[1] In fact, one study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found a significant change in the symptom severity and functional status of patients after two weeks of deep-tissue massage treatment.[2]

Carpal tunnel syndrome frequently afflicts people who, like you, work at a computer all day or doing other repetitive tasks, such as filing, that involve the wrists and forearms. Genetics may also play a role.[3] Also similar to your experience, carpal tunnel syndrome is traditionally treated by wearing splints on the wrist. Unfortunately, wearing splints during activity can in some cases actually exacerbate the condition.[4]

When you go to book your session, choose a massage therapist who has experience working on clients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Deep-tissue work to treat carpal tunnel syndrome requires a significant understanding of anatomy. In most cases, the massage therapist will advise a full-body session using Swedish massage, with some additional deep-tissue work that focuses on your wrists.[5] Additional deep-tissue work on your shoulders and upper back may also be helpful if your carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the constriction of nerves in your spine.[6]

Keep in mind that massage therapy is complementary treatment – it works best when used alongside other treatment options. Massage therapy can make you feel a lot better. In fact, you may find some relief after just one 60-minute session. However, you might need at least 4 to 6 sessions for that relief to become more long-term. You should also keep in mind that relief of symptoms doesn’t mean your carpal tunnel syndrome has been cured. Symptoms may return, particularly if you discontinue regular massages.[7]

References:

[1] Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: “Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/12/14/massage-carpal-tunnel-syndrome

[2] Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies: “Massage Therapy as an Effective Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23768278

[3] American Massage Therapy Association: “Massage and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/2899/massage-carpal-tunnel-syndrome

[4] European Medical School of Massage: “Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” https://emsom.edu/massage-carpal-tunnel-syndrome/

[5] American Massage Therapy Association: “Massage and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/2899/massage-carpal-tunnel-syndrome

[6] Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: “Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/12/14/massage-carpal-tunnel-syndrome

[7] American Massage Therapy Association: “Massage and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/2899/massage-carpal-tunnel-syndrome

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