Soft Tissue Release For Carpal Tunnel
Several thousand individuals each year will miss work, change careers, spend millions of dollars on medical care and suffer untold pain caused by the chronic repetitive use injury known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Blue Cross Blue Shield of California assessed that a single case of carpal tunnel syndrome can cost as much as $100,00 in lost work, surgery and rehabilitation. The successful treatment of this sometimes severe and crippling injury can at times baffle traditional medicine. The focus of treatment is usually one of four or a combination of the following: rest and immobilization with braces or splints, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy with stretching and biomechanical modification or, if symptoms persist after one or more of these approaches, surgery.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by chronic and repetitive over use of the wrist without appropriate stretching and strengthening to off set an over growth of the carpal ligament. The median nerve that innervates a portion of the hand and lies directly under the over grown carpal ligament begins to compress causing tingling, pain and numbness, loss of grip and sometimes loss of muscle.
Many individuals want to go for the quick fix of surgery where the over grown carpal ligament is partially excised relieving the pressure on the nerve. The surgery is usually successful, but in some cases scaring from the surgery will cause a recurrence of symptoms, or if the individual returns to the same job without modifying their repetitive wrist movements and does not utilize the appropriate stretching exercises symptoms of pain and numbness will quickly return.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is of particular interest to bodyworkers and massage therapists, as those of us who do not use their wrists correctly and do not utilize the appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises will find themselves out of a job. I am now finishing up my twelfth year doing massage and body work and it’s more that good luck that I do not suffer from carpal tunnel.
Here’s how I keep my hands and wrists healthy and stay out of the surgeons office:
Self care stretches: Lock the elbow out and with palm facing up, extend the wrist and fingers back. At the end of that movement, with the other hand, assist that stretch for two seconds. Repeat 10 times, changing the angle of the stretch each time.
With elbow straight and palm facing down, extend the wrist and fingers as far back as possible. At the end of the stretch, take your other hand and assist that stretch for two seconds. Repeat 10 times, changing the angle of the stretch each time.
Extend the elbow and slowly flex the wrist downward. With the other hand, apply a two second stretch. Repeat 10 times, changing the angle of the stretch each time.
Extend the elbow and make a firm fist. Flex the wrist downward as far as possible. Then with the other hand assist the stretch for two seconds. Repeat 10 times, changing the angle of the stretch each time.
Chronic injury such as carpal tunnel will require patience and persistence to overcome. Although it will take more than one week of stretching I believe that these exercises used daily or more, for one week will find your wrists feeling better. Till next time, Rebecca