Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as text messaging syndrome, or repetitive stress injury, occurs when a nerve in the wrist becomes obstructed. The nerve extends through the carpal tunnel, which derives its name from the carpal bones in the wrists. There are eight carpal bones, and they form the tunnel. Repetitive tasks, like keyboarding, texting, and other activities that require forceful wrist movements create swelling around the tendons in the wrist, pinching the nerve.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may manifest as one or more of the following:
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, there is a good chance that you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Virtually anyone who uses their hands a great deal could develop carpal tunnel syndrome. If you are constantly working at a computer, you are at a very high risk. Carpenters, mechanics, cashiers and anyone who performs a lot of manual labor can also develop the syndrome.
Additionally, carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with pregnancy, menopause, Lyme disease, slipped discs, neck injuries, diabetes, thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis and obesity. If you use tobacco, caffeine, alcohol or artificial sweeteners, your risk also increases. Carpal tunnel syndrome most often occurs in people age 40-60, but it can develop at any age. More than 50% of pregnant women will develop symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome; however the symptoms usually disappear following childbirth.
Fortunately, carpal tunnel syndrome is treatable. Surgery is often recommended, but is not always necessary. In fact, neuromuscular therapy (massage) can help to support healing and ease pain, as well as improving your grip strength. The treatment consists of applying moderate pressure, starting at the fingertips and continuing up the lower arm to the elbow. This eases the inflammation in the tendons, thereby reducing pressure on the nerve, and also facilitates the movement of excessive fluid away from the wrist area. Patients typically experience relief for up to four weeks following treatment.
In addition to the specific treatments focusing on the wrist and the carpal region, your therapist may also massage your neck in order to ease your discomfort. This is because the median nerve could be compressed in other areas, causing further irritation in the carpal region. The carpal region itself is not usually targeted.
Side effects from neuromuscular therapy are extremely rare, and usually a result of overly vigorous massage. Of course, as is the case with virtually any type of treatment, you should let your therapist know if you’re taking any medications, and if you have any underlying medical conditions. Most people can benefit from neuromuscular therapy, but some conditions can make massage treatments problematic. For instance, if you have cancer, you should talk with your doctor before considering neuromuscular therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome. This is because, depending on the location of the cancer, massage treatments could further damage already traumatized tissue. Generally speaking, you should also avoid massage if you are running a high fever, if you have osteoporosis, or if you have recently had surgery.
Surgery is often advised for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, in many instances, invasive treatment is not needed. Neuromuscular therapy can be highly effective and can provide lasting relief from the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
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