Carpal Tunnel

Everyone has ‘Carpal Tunnel’. In fact, everyone has two Carpal Tunnels. However, not everyone has Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. We all have a fascia band around our wrists which holds in place the medial nerve, ligaments and bones. Most of our muscles begin and end with tendons which attach to bony landmarks on our skeletal system. When our flexor muscles of our forearm are overworked with repetitive motions then the muscle becomes agitated which inflames the tendons of our wrist. This swelling and inflammation squeezes the medial nerve against the ligament.

Common repetitive motions include typing, knitting, using a jack hammer, hammering nails such as in building a house and rowing a boat for long distances. A fracture in the wrist creates inflammation and can trigger Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Car accidents, sporting accidents, catching ourselves from a fall can also contribute to inflammation of the Carpal Tunnel. Pregnancy can also lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as the body is altered from its non-pregnancy state. Arthritis, diabetes and hypothyroidism can create inflammation and swelling in the Carpal Tunnel.

Most Carpal Tunnel Syndrome cases are a direct result of lack of rest in between repetitive motions which tends to overwork these muscles leading to inflammation. Eventually the pressure placed on the median nerve causes nerve pain which can travel up the arm and into the shoulder. Symptoms may include pain, numbness and tingling in the wrist, hand and especially the thumb, index and middle finger. Other signs of a swollen flexor tendon include visible swelling in the wrist, heat, pain when moving the wrist flexing and extending the wrist or when moving the wrist from side to side. As pain radiates up the arm one may lose the full use and range of motion they once enjoyed.

Trigger Points, knots, may also form along this path leading to increased pain in all the muscles up the arm and into the shoulder. Chronic pain becomes so debilitating that quality of life is affected. Some opt for surgery to clip the Carpal Tunnel. I have heard from several people that surgery left their hand weak and they still had some pain. Others had very good success with surgery only to have the Carpal Tunnel regrow and become a problem again due to the repetitive motions of their job.

There are several options besides surgery to reduce inflammation in the wrist and reduce inflammation and ultimately pain.

First of all it is important to get creative in finding other ways to accomplish the same task without the perpetual repetitive motion. Sometimes this is not an option especially for writers and computer office staff. For those with these jobs it is just as important to set aside time to take regular rest breaks throughout each given task. Self-massage will do wonders to alleviate this problem.

Michael Stone is a massage therapist who teaches a technique that is easy for self-therapy. Simply relax your arm in front of you with your elbow bent and the palm of your hand facing your body. Place your opposing hand over the back of your wrist. Keep the hand you are working on upright and level with your arm. Place a medium amount of pressure with your fingers on the back side of your hand and while you stroke down from the back of your hand over your wrist you simply flex your wrist towards your body in unison. The next stroke begins in the original position and you flex your wrist as you stroke down from the back of your hand over your wrist. Repeat this massage for at least five minutes. You can do this several times per day on both hands.

Massage sedates the nerve endings and eases pain and inflammation. More on hydrotherapy and trigger point massage in other upcoming articles and on my websites that will be regularly posted on my new website at Feel free to leave comments and ask questions for specifics problem areas. Check in periodically and sign up for the newsletter for current postings.