Carpal tunnel syndrome is a debilitating condition that can hamper your life. It hurts: The incessant pain, numbness and tingling are annoying and often overwhelming.
Moreover, carpal tunnel changes the way people work and do tasks with their hands. Gripping and holding become difficult and painful; typing or doing fine finger work (like electrics or sewing) can become nearly impossible. While surgery tends to provide the best relief, it often has unwanted side effects. In this article, I’d like to share another method of treatment, a do-it-yourself acupressure method that just may offer significant help.
The Narrow Carpal Tunnel
The carpal tunnel is a narrow, rigid canal or passageway on the under (palm) side of the wrist. The area consists of bones, connective tissue, tendons and the median nerve. The carpal tunnel joins the forearm with the palm of the hand.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the medium nerve running through the carpal canal becomes irritated or compressed because of a narrowing of the area canal area. Since this nerve is what sends the sensation signals to the palmar side of the hand, thumb and fingers (minus the pinky), compression leads to inflammation, pain, tingling and numbness. Other discomforts can include burning, itching, pain that radiates up the arm and weakness. Even when no visual swelling is apparent, sufferers feel like their hands are swollen, generally as a result of the numbness in the fingers.
There are a number of things that can cause or put you at risk for developing CTS.
- Genetic predisposition: Small bones or a small carpal canal increases the risk.
- Hormonal changes: For women, hormones increase the chances of the syndrome; pregnancy and menopause can be particularly problematic.
- Diseases: Conditions like arthritis, lupus, diabetes and obesity can lead to narrowing of the canal.
- Repetitive motions: Excessively doing activities like typing, using hand tools, gardening, golfing, sewing and massaging can repeatedly strain the area, causing localized inflammation and trauma.
Common CTS Treatment Options
There are a number of treatment options in wide use for the treatment of CTS. These include the use of wrist splints to brace the wrist in a neutral position to allow reduction in irritation of the area. You can also take a break from the activity that may be causing the CTS. But that is unrealistic if you depend on using your hands for a living.
Anti-inflammatory medications are also used to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as corticosteroids. However, these are not recommended for long-term use because of potentially serious side effects. Physical therapy and surgery round out the list of usual treatment options, but they offer only varying degrees of success.
In my clinical practice I developed a self-acupressure method that has proven successful in various degrees with my own clients and those of my colleagues. The theory is based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture. This philosophy takes into account not only the physical canal space but also the role of blood, lymph and muscle in the prevention and treatment of CTS.
In a nutshell, here is the technique you can use:
- Extend your forearm, wrist and palm muscles to stimulate blood flow and reduce muscle contraction pain and tightness.
- Press specific acu-points to remove energetic stagnations and promote free flow of qi or energy.
- Restore range of motion.
- Reduce inflammation, pain and stagnation in the carpal tunnel, hand, wrist and forearm.
I made the following video for you to follow. Repeat this procedure several times a day for best results. If you are in an early stage of the condition, you get best results. But even long-term sufferers can find relief.