Wrist pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome can be disabling in our daily lives. It affects millions each year around the world. This musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), which can be recognised as an occupational disease in certain cases, has also become a major concern in companies.
But a few simple and natural solutions, such as massage, stretching or acupuncture, can provide you some much needed relief. Before you think about decompression surgery, you may want to try some massage or the exercises to get some relief.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve at the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a space bounded by the bones of the wrist and a rigid ligament that connects the bones to each other. The median nerve provides sensitivity to the pulp of the thumb, index and middle fingers. It also provides motor innervation to certain muscles of the thumb, the thenar muscles.
The median nerve of the hand and the tendons of the flexor muscles of the fingers pass through this canal. These tendons connect the muscles to the bones of the hand; it is through these tendons that movement from the muscles to the bones is relayed. The median nerve transmits the signals by which the brain controls the movements of the fingers and hands.
The tendons of the fingers surround the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. If the tendons swell, the space in the canal is reduced and the median nerve, which is softer than the tendons, is compressed. This compression can damage the nerve.
When the median nerve is damaged by compression, the injury results in numbness and tingling in the hand and pain and loss of dexterity. This set of symptoms is called carpal tunnel syndrome. People with carpal tunnel syndrome have difficulty doing things like unscrewing a bottle cap, buttoning a garment or turning a key in a lock.
What are the signs of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The first sign of carpal tunnel syndrome is paresthesia, or tingling and numbness in the hand, which can sometimes extend to the shoulder. Often, carpal tunnel syndrome begins with night-time pain that forces the patient to shake the hand.
A person with carpal tunnel syndrome will usually notice numbness and tingling in the fingertips (mainly the thumb, index and middle fingers), as well as pain that can radiate up the forearm in some cases. Unlike other wrist conditions, in carpal tunnel syndrome the pain tends to be worse at night or during an activity where the wrist is in a so-called static position.
CTS sufferer’s are constantly looking for a comfortable position, whether to make a phone call, read or drive. In the most advanced stages, numbness often gives way to a loss of sensitivity in the first three fingers of the hand, and patients experience a lack of strength and dexterity when performing everyday actions.
What to do If you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are some simple steps that can be taken to quickly relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel. It is important to know that these tips are particularly effective in the early stages of the disease.
It is important to know that numbness or loss of feeling in the fingers always indicates pathology, or disease, in one or more nerves in the arm or forearm. If the numbness is limited to the thumb, index and middle fingers, it is very likely to be carpal tunnel syndrome. If the numbness and pain in the wrist cause night-time awakenings, you should consult a specialist as soon as possible.
Massage Therapy and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Massage therapy can be used to relieve symptoms of carpal tunnel and can also act as a preventative measure. They can also aid in treating carpal tunnel syndrome. Massage therapy are known to reduce inflammation, pain, and numbness. This is done by stretching the muscles and fascia of the neck, shoulders and arms, wrists, wrists, and hands.
Deep tissue massage can be used for trigger points stimulation and to reduce tension in the soft tissues around the wrist, arm, hand, and shoulder. These massages can also increase joint mobility.
Combining massage therapy with myofacial cupping, you can reduce tension in the muscles that could be contributing to CTS symptoms. Always remember to massage the sore area immediately after applying ice to stimulate blood flow and keep muscle fibres flexible.
Read also: How To Do Self Massage
The simplest remedy to relieve your fingers, hand and wrist is rest. When the symptoms improve, you can gradually return to your normal activities. You can assess the ergonomics of your home and work area yourself to identify problems that may be contributing to the pain. A few changes, such as using an adapted keyboard and mouse, can help.
Read also: Best Keyboard Wrist Rests in UK
Wrist stretching exercises can be done at any time of the day to relieve pressure on the median nerve. Clench your fist, then slide your fingers one by one until they are all straight and repeat this exercise five to ten times in a row. If the problem is related to fluid retention, make it a habit to raise your painful hand as often as possible.
Wearing brace or splint
You can keep your wrist from bending during sleep by wearing a brace or splint at night. Your wrist should be kept straight or neutral to reduce pressure on the carpal tunnel nerve. You may find it helpful to wear a splint throughout the day if you are doing things that can aggravate your symptoms.
Read also: Best Carpal Tunnel Wrist Braces
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who are most affected by carpal tunnel syndrome?
In the majority of cases, this disorder occurs from the age of 50 onwards – the tendons grow larger with age – and affects women slightly more, particularly because of the hormonal changes associated with the menopause. Similarly, this syndrome can appear during pregnancy, although it is rare that patients develop very painful forms. The symptoms usually resolve in the weeks following childbirth.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can also be secondary to diseases such as diabetes, hypothyroidism or rheumatoid arthritis.
What tests are useful to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome?
X-rays of the wrists and hands are not always essential. It allows the detection of a narrowing of the canal of post-traumatic osseous origin. X-rays of the cervical spine are sometimes requested to rule out compression upstream or associated with the wrist compression.
The electromyogram or E.M.G. measures the electrical impulses transmitted by the median nerve. The recording studies the speed of sensitive and motor conduction of the nerve. This examination makes it possible to confirm the diagnosis, to localise the level of compression and to search for an anomaly on the other nerves of the arm.
Can carpal tunnel syndrome be hereditary?
The causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are multi factorial, but the genetic dimension does plays a role. CTS can run in families, just like diabetes, thyroid disease and osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that there is an increase risk of having CTS if someone in your family had it. However, it is not clear which genetic factors are involved or if there are shared environmental factors.