With carpal tunnel syndrome, you are looking for quick relief from pain and numbness or tingling, and once you’ve confirmed your diagnosis with your physician, you might wonder if there is anything you can do to help your condition. Splinting the wrist, especially at night, has proven to be a beneficial practice as the splint holds the wrist in a neutral position and alleviates pressure on the median nerve. Studies have shown that using a splint can reduce pain in as little as a couple of weeks, but this treatment has not always been enough to completely solve the problem as the symptoms sometimes return. For some, using a splint doesn’t help at all. However, research has shown that massage, particularly self-massage, can help.
One 2011 study reveals that combining a few minutes of daily massage plus a nightly splinting of the wrist can be a promising treatment for some people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. This study involved 80 people ages 31-65 with 95 percent of participants being female. It was one of the largest studies (and perhaps the first) on the benefit of employing a specific massage technique (the Madenci technique) to help carpal tunnel syndrome.
After dividing the study participants into two groups, researchers treated one group with a splint alone and the other group with the splint plus specific massage methods developed by the researchers. The various movements were intended to reduce swelling and pain and increase elasticity. This daily, 3-minute massage practice included circular and kneading motions while holding the fingers in five different positions, along with loosely shaking the hand. After 6 months, participants were evaluated in terms of pain levels and grip strength. In addition, other electro neurophysiological tests were used to determine progress in nerve health.
Researchers were pleased to find out that including a short, daily massage in the treatment regimen for carpal tunnel syndrome reduced participants’ pain levels and improved their grip strength. Another interesting finding was that the mood of the participants who used daily self-massage showed improvement, and rates of anxiety and/or depression were reduced. The release of the hormone oxytocin was most likely the reason for the reduced pain and mood improvement, researchers surmised, as massage therapy has been connected with increased levels of the natural pain-relieving hormone. Other researchers have suggested that increased blood circulation from massage and related therapies is responsible for the improvement. The importance of this study is that the findings show self-massage is inexpensive, effective, and convenient for patients to administer, so the likelihood of follow-through is fairly high.
If you’re suffering from the pain and numbness of carpal tunnel syndrome, consider asking your doctor about the Madenci hand massage method as a possible treatment option, in addition to nightly splinting of the wrist. Check out our videos with expert Dr. Kyle Bickel for more helpful tips! Doctorpedia supports patients by providing educational information to inform their treatment choices, and we encourage close collaboration with your physician to determine the best option for your health!
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Wrist splints and hand exercises. (2017). InformedHealth.org. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279596/
- Madenci, E., Altindag, O., Koca, I., Yilmaz, M., & Gur, A. (2011). Reliability and efficacy of the new massage technique on the treatment in the patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Rheumatology International, 32(10), 3171-3179. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3456919/