Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The carpal tunnel is formed by the bones that make up a wrist and a ligament on top of them. Located just below the crease of the wrist, this fibrosseous canal is the location of potential compression of the median nerve (one of the nerves that provides innervation to a hand) as it passes through.
This produces numbness and tingling which often can be felt in the thumb, pointer, and middle finger.
This compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel is referred to as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), and it is the most commonly encountered nerve entrapment syndrome in the arm.
If you work long hours at a keyboard on a regular basis, you are among those with increased rates of CTS, which also includes those in fields which require highly repetitive flexion and extension of the wrist (ex. assembly line workers, butchers, etc.).
Compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel may occur in two general ways, either with an increase in the size of the contents passing through the tunnel, or with a decrease in size of the tunnel itself; however, both might occur in combination as well. There may be a familial component to the condition, or it may also be affected by an underlying condition (such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, etc.); compression above at the elbow or neck, or pregnancy can be some factors that are also involved.
Symptoms are aggravated by moving the wrist, which causes pain. A particular characteristic of CTS you might experience are nocturnal symptoms which wake you up during the night. Eventually, wasting of muscle tissue may lead to weakness of the fingers and thumb.
Massage therapy treatment generally addresses the tissues and joints above the site of the compression, in the treatment context of relaxation (to promote stress reduction) and diaphragmatic breathing.
Goals are generally to reduce pain, swelling, tension in muscles, fascial restrictions, knots, adhesions and stress - improve the health of tissues and maintain range of motion. Patient education is also important, where the practitioner might develop a self-care plan for the specific case. If the CTS is a result of repetitive actions or overuse, the prognosis might be good if the patient follows regular treatments and self-care with commitment. The overall goal is to decrease the compression on the median nerve.
One of our professionals may assess you to determine if there might be other potential factors involved, and how they might be addressed; or, a physician's opinion may be required.
Referral to a physician for examination is common, who may also prescribe you with a splint; further referral may be to chiropractic care, physiotherapy, naturopathy, an acupuncturist and/or a nutritionist.