Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that, essentially, compresses one of the main nerves that feeds the muscles and touch sense of part of the hand, the median nerve. The diagnosis gained popularity in the early 1940s with the rise of skilled industrial factory work, assembly lines, and keyboard work that required repetitive bending of the wrists. Today, computer work is frequently the culprit of hand and wrist pain.
However, true carpal tunnel syndrome - the contraction of the transverse carpal ligament that resides on the base of the palm - is rare. It is very common for people to experience the pain symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome but the carpal tunnel itself could be quite healthy and not involved in nerve compression. So what is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Imagine a highway with all but one of the roads closed: all of the traffic moving along that narrowed thoroughfare gets congested and compacted. When this happens in your wrist, nerve signals that travel through the carpal to supply the muscles, skin, and joints of the hand are similarly impacted, which can cause cause numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Prolonged issues with carpal tunnel syndrome may lead to to interventions such as splinting the wrist, or, in severe cases, surgical intervention.
But why do you have a pain in the wrist? For a variety of reasons. Over the years, we’ve seen a mix of office workers, tradespeople, and frequently massage therapists themselves who have searched for relief from nagging wrist pain. While the causes of true carpal tunnel syndrome may be at play, there may also be muscle tension and trigger points in the forearms, shoulder, chest or neck that can manifest as pain the the wrist.
As a massage therapist, I am acutely aware of the integrity of the carpal tunnel as well as the strength and well-being of my wrists. It's my livelihood, so I've taken a great deal of care to ensure the joints of my wrist (and there are a curious amount of them) stay both stable and mobile. At Sore Spots, you can expect your therapist to complete an assessment as part of your massage, especially if you are a new client or a client who is presenting with new symptoms. As mentioned above, it’s not uncommon that wrist, elbow, shoulder and/or neck pain can be related, so all three areas may be evaluated - along with a postural review. Your therapist may also give you home care advice to lighten the load on your wrists and help avoid further pain. If you simply can’t wait until your next appointment here at Sore Spots than we don’t mind recommending Dr. Jo’s youtube directory of physical therapy advice for the wrist and arm - but we highly recommend for chronic soft tissue issues to book in with a ‘sore spots’ massage therapist to help work it out with you.