Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
CTS is a common problem which interferes with the use of the hand and the wrist. It is a painful disorder caused by compression of a nerve in the carpal tunnel, which is a passageway in the wrist through which nerves and the flexor muscles in the hand pass. Also known as Repetitive Strain Injury or Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Pain and a sensation of burning, numbness, tingling or pinching feeling in the fingers (typically the thumb, index and ring finger), hand and wrist.
- Diminished Weakness in the hand
- Pain that may radiate up the Shoulder
- Symptoms often first appear in the night in one or both hands, causing loss of sleep, since it is common to sleep with clenched wrists
- Decreased Grip Strength
- A feeling of uselessness in the Fingers
- Inability to perform simple tasks, such as picking up objects
- Many sufferers often feel the need to shake out or massage their hands, wrists, and arms
- Dropping objects
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Repetitive or Mechanical Hand Tasks and Motions
- Awkward Hand Positions
- Strong Gripping
- Vibration, such as the repeated use of Vibrating Hand Tools
- Mechanical Stress on the Palm
- Trauma or Injury to the Wrist than causes swelling
- Fluid Retention during Pregnancy or Menopause
- Work Stress
- Often the cause can be from a multiple of factors that increase pressure on the median nerves and tendons in the Carpal Tunnel
- Muscle imbalance due to overuse, which leads to joint imbalance, causing unequal pressure on the joint, causing one side of the joint to be loose and the opposing side to be compressed.
- Diabetes, gout, rheumatoid arthritis and other system disorders
Who is at Risk from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- Certain jobs that require a combination of repetitive, forceful, and awkward or stressed motions of your hand and wrist.
- Your Sex - Women are three times more likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than Men according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Heredity! If close relatives have had this condition, you may be significantly more likely to develop Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Inherited physical characteristics such as the shape of your wrist may make you more susceptible.
- Certain health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, some thyroid problems and rheumatoid arthritis can increase your risk.
- Pregnant Women
- Women taking oral contraceptives
- Menopausal Women
- People with end-stage kidney disease are more likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Effect of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on U.S. Businesses
According to the U.S. Dept. Of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (OSHA), Repetitive Strain Injuries are the Nation’s Most Common and Costly Occupational Health Problem, costing more than $20 Billion Dollars a Year in Worker’s Compensation Benefits!
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?
If you have some or all of the symptoms of CTS, you should see a Physician who can do a physical examination of your hands, arms, shoulders, and neck that can help determine if your complaints are related to daily activities or to an underlying disorder. They can rule out other painful conditions that have similar symptoms and give you advice for treatment.
Often it's necessary to confirm the diagnosis by use of electrodiagnostic tests where electrodes are placed on the hand and wrist.
How Can Massage Help Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Sufferers?
Massage Therapy techniques such as Myofascial Release (MFR) and Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT)can help ease the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and can help increase grip strength. It is important to find a Certified Massage Therapist who has training in one or both of these massage modalities. Myofascial Release is one of my top specialties!
Massage is a safe effective treatment, however, therapists should be aware that direct manipulation of the damaged nerve is highly detrimental and can easily cause other problems. Direct pressure on the carpal tunnel region should be applied rarely and always with great caution.
The massage should focus on techniques that focus on the wrist flexors or the carpal-tunnel region, and also address all the regions of the upper extremity and the neck when treating CTS. The median nerve may be compressed in a number of other locations, which can further irritate the nerve at the carpal tunnel.
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