A 2013 study published in the Journal of Bodyworks & Movement Therapies concludes that massages massage therapy can be an effective therapy option for carpal tunnel syndrome, with common symptoms reduction and functional improvement in under 2 weeks. This is great news for the 12 million Americans suffering from the condition.
What is carpal tunnel?
Tingling, numbness, and pain in the hand are common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Although it sounds relatively harmless, carpal tunnel is a severe nuisance for some and a crippling condition for others—especially those in clerical, construction, or other occupations involving repetitive motions of the hands and wrists. CTS symptoms culminate in loss of strength and fine motor skills and disproportionately affects more women than men. Between 4% and 9% of adult women report having carpal tunnel, while 0.6% of adult men report having the symptoms.
Just how significant is this problem? With the cost of each procedure totaling $60,000 and half-a-million people seeking surgery each year to help relieve their symptoms, it’s the second most costly surgical procedure behind lumbar disc replacements (1). While the existing non-invasive options (ultrasound, corticosteroid injections, splits, and NSAIDS) do help, there is little evidence pointing to their effectiveness in the long-term. Therefore, new alternatives are required.
Carpal tunnel treatments with massage therapy
The study’s authors hypothesized that because carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the pinching of a nerve in the wrist, it may be possible to treat it by applying pressure at all possible trigger points that can lead to the pinched nerve.
The authors applied 30 minutes of massage, starting with the torso and finishing with the affected wrist, twice a week for six weeks. Participants were assessed every week and demonstrated significant results in just two weeks. The treatment employed three massage movements: smooth, flowing movement, kneading, and friction.
At the end of the treatment period, participants reported a reduction in symptoms and improved functionality in their wrists along with better range of motion.
Chaan Thai Massage offers a range of therapy options that can help those at risk for occupational-induced carpal tunnel syndrome reduce the strain of daily, repetitive motion to avoid pinching of the medial nerve. Additionally, for those who already suffer from carpal tunnel, regular massage therapy can be an effective treatment option as an alternative to pharmaceuticals or costly surgery.
1. Elliot, R., Burkett, B. “Massage therapy as an effective therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome.” J. Bodywork Mov. Ther. 17, p. 332 (2013).