If you've ever experienced pain, numbness or tingling in your wrists or hands, you might have carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes that sensation goes away quickly, but knowing more about it can save you time and trouble if the problem returns. You also may find that understanding carpal tunnel massage techniques will make it easier to seek treatment when you need relief.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Your carpal tunnel is the passage that goes from your forearm through your wrist to the palm of your hand. About the same width as your thumb, this narrow canal contains nine tendons and one nerve. If that median nerve gets pinched in the tunnel -- by swelling from a wrist fracture, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, thyroid problems, obesity, menopause, diabetes and other risk factors -- it will register a painful protest.
Usually symptoms occur on the thumb side of your palm, and often the pins-and-needles feeling or numbness extends to your thumb and first two or three fingers. Generally the effect is only on your dominant hand, which makes movement especially awkward. People sometimes report flapping their hands in an attempt to find relief, but if the symptoms worsen that technique becomes less effective.
What Can Help
"Wrist splinting and other conservative treatments are more likely to help you," says the Mayo Clinic, "if you've had only mild to moderate symptoms for less than 10 months." Surgery is another option, and so are medications such as corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Then there are carpal tunnel natural treatments like taking more frequent breaks when using your wrist, or applying cold compresses to help reduce swelling in the area. Carpal tunnel massage can also help you feel better in other areas as well. Various types of massage not only relax the muscles and tissues in your hands and wrists, but also provide other benefits.
The Mayo Clinic warns that poor posture can make your shoulders roll forward, shortening your neck and shoulder muscles. This leads to compressed nerves in your neck, which can affect your fingers, hands and wrists.
However, massage can relax and loosen the muscles made sore by bad posture, providing relaxation for joints and relief of pressure points. This allows your body to return to more healthy, natural posture, which can have positive effects for years to come.
Of course, decreased pain is the first and most obvious result of carpal tunnel massage. But a 2010 study by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami (Florida) School of Medicine showed that regular massage therapy can also improve the strength of your grip.
Hot Stone Benefits
In addition, the researchers discovered that people with pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome and other hand problems wound up sleeping better as a result of massage. Hot stone therapy proved especially effective, because muscles relax under the direct heat of stones and allow the professional massage therapist to reach deeper layers of muscle.
Hot stones expand blood vessels, as well, encouraging blood flow not only in the hands but throughout the entire body. The relief of chronic pain is enhanced by reduced stress and deep relaxation, which provides for better health overall.